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Royal Prelude Read 7125 times

Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #30 on: March 26, 2015, 01:09:23 am »

Some people knew how to use a smile.  Some people didn’t.  Dominick’s cheesy grin fell in the category of making Cane queasy rather than confident.  The false brightness nearly blinded him and hinted it was only a matter of time before things got ugly.  He shook his head. Cane could almost hear a count-down of doom, punctuated by Ariel’s request to show his cards.

He really wished he’d taken the opportunity to get to know Dom better.  He wished he’d broken down and adopted a dog. He wished he’d resolved his issues with Desiree, gotten married, had kids. Moments like these reminded him that life was too short for regrets.  He’d have to get on at least one of those items if he made it out the door.

Words would make the situation worse.  So he held back the ‘be a good sport’ Ariel that quivered on his tongue.  He’d be a good sport if Ariel could beat the full house.  But, after he flipped over the hidden pair, he figured his hands were best kept along the edge of the table, ideally to throw it up as a shield if things got out of control.  No point in reaching for the money just yet.


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #31 on: March 26, 2015, 02:33:16 am »
Cane looked away much quicker that time, which might have made Dominick laugh if he found much amusement in it. He didn’t know Cane well enough to be amused, though, and his clear look of discomfort only made the situation that much worse.

They both knew Ariel was a ticking time bomb.
‘And yet he remains a guard.’ Well, Mael had answered why for Dominick, once upon a time. The Pyrrus name, even though Ariel was no longer a Lord.

Cane’s cards were shown, and Ariel definitely didn’t have a hand that could beat it. His face fell as he revealed what he had. Two kings, two queens, and a two.
“You cheated!” Ariel accused immediately, rising to his full height. “That waitress—”

“Nope.” Dominick called as he felt the heat wash over him, far as he was. No fire, but that heat was ridiculous. Several eyes moved in that direction, and then quickly looked away. “That wasn’t what she whispered. Nothing about cards.”

Those blazing eyes lifted from Cane to Dominick,
“Then what was it?”

“Nothing I’d repeat.”


Ariel could surmise based on her behavior.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2015, 03:29:57 am »
Cane felt the heat as well, but didn’t flinch.  He blinked, but other than the involuntary spasm no other part of his body moved.  Even when Dominic started to speak he stared at Ariel, keeping his eyes on the bomb rather than the one trying to defuse it.  His lips did twitch however over Dom’s superior hearing.  He thought it best not to thank the man for coming to his defense – one of them in trouble was likely enough.  To lighten the mood, Cane considered offering some sort of off-hand comment about women, but he couldn’t see himself bonding with Ariel over conquests.  The ground was too sensitive, or at least he thought it so.  He actually felt a touch self-conscious and lifted a hand to rub the lipstick off his cheek. The brand had been funny before but now he felt foolish for flirting when he had no intention on follow-through.  In the next moment the hand was on his hat and he pulled the item off his head and stood, planning to scoop some coins into it.  Right now the pile on the table was too large to shove into his pockets.

The bartender took up a shout.  “Cane, you buying?”

There was no last  name, no ‘mr’ or title.  He was a slave to four letters only, and most people knew them. The smile widened.  He doubted Ariel would have taken the same hint with grace.  “Of course.  Drinks all around.”

But as he reached for the next handful, he felt his wrist grabbed.  A sturdy yank, and he was flat on the table nearly nose to nose with Ariel.  Green eyes met blue unblinking.

“You’ll give me another game.”

Even though physical force was in play and his wrist was feeling the warmth of a burn, Cane said coolly, “I have an appointment.”

“Scared?”

“No.”

“Prove you’re not a cheat.”

Cane pulled his wrist out of the bond and pushed himself off the table.  A couple of coins fell on the ground.

Cheating is boring. 

But no explanation would really satisfy Ariel.  “Fine.”  Cane said.  He poured the coins back on the table, but pushed them towards his side.  He wasn’t going to repeat the hand.  Ariel would need to put new money in the pot.  He took his seat.  “Anyone else want in?”

« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 03:32:51 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #33 on: March 26, 2015, 11:13:30 pm »
Dominick knew he shouldn’t get involved. It would lead to him getting on Ariel’s bad side no matter how things went down. Yet, he also knew the only way Cane was getting out of here without a scrape was if Ariel was subdued. Dominick shouldn’t care, and yet he did, if only because Cane interested him. Matthew and Ariel had a dislike that verged on personal.

“I’ll deal,” Dominick said when Cane asked about others in. He wouldn’t bet or deal himself a hand. He did know how to cheat.

He could cheat for Ariel’s advantage, but wouldn’t. He’d play it fair. ‘And get a fireball to the face.’ Well, he might be able to count on Ariel rethinking it with him.

As Dominick walked to the table, he found a vial in one of his pockets and slid it up under one of his sleeves, sliding it under a band on his arm. As the round was brought over, he took Ariel’s drink and his new water, and first placed his water down. Then he brushed that empty hand by his sleeve, tilted his arm just so, and set Ariel’s beer near him.

Ariel’s focus was on Cane too much to notice, and he likely wouldn’t taste it. The affect would be equivalent to getting drunk. Anything else, and Dominick knew Ariel would realize what he’d done.

Ariel didn’t sit until Dominick did, with the deck of cards in his hand, shuffling them,
“Same game?” He asked.

Ariel nodded his consent, took a swig of his new beverage, and then set it down rather forcefully. Dominick was briefly concerned he figured it out in one gulp, but no accusations followed, and no fireballs. So Dominick dealt out the three cards, two down, one up. A glance to Ariel, and Ariel just tossed twenty into the center of the table without much care. He had only taken a glance at his own cards. He was more concerned with Cane’s doings. 


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2015, 12:43:22 am »
Cane was grateful that Dominick agreed to deal but he lifted a shoulder like he didn’t care and kept his eyes on Ariel.  In the end it was the other who broke the gaze first, letting his focus wander to the drink beside him.

The waitress set a cup of coffee in front of Cane as the cards were dealt.  Cane didn’t drink from the cup.  He let his hands rest on the table, reaching for the matching bet as Ariel called out a figure.  The coins jingled as they met in the center.  Once again he declined to look at the cards.  It didn’t really matter what he was dealt, he wouldn’t be raising the pot.   He debated about folding, but then Ariel would cry foal.

He smiled at the waitress.  “Take this over to Barney,” he said passing off a small stack of coins and nodding towards the bartender.  “I did promise to buy.”   No one cheered.  He figured they were busy minding their own business.  A couple people headed to the door as the air temperature rose a notch and Cane figured his gesture would likely go unnoticed in any case.

A small smirk lit his face as he noted Dominick's water. Cheap date.

“So,” Cane said, leaning back in his chair.  “You in town for business or pleasure?”

He wasn’t sure what devil on his shoulder advised him to add, “And where is Des?”

« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 12:45:50 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2015, 04:19:11 am »
“Pleasure.” Ariel answered.

“Both.”
Dominick contradicted Ariel, only slightly, as he dealt the next card.

“Where any of us are is none of your business.”
Ariel threw more money at the pile when he was given his card, giving it a momentary glance. It was really quite sad. A sane man would have folded with the hand that Ariel had. A five and a Jack were revealed. The other cards didn’t make the situation better.

Dom might have joked he didn’t get paid enough to watch Ariel, but…well, he really did. That wasn’t the business, anyway,
“We’re here in case Matthew fails to deal with the pirates a few towns from here. He believes they’d flee this way.” Dominick shrugged, “Since Matthew won’t fail, we’re really here for pleasure.”

Matthew had enough force in Mael, Desiree, and Alyssa to deal with shiploads of pirates, even if there was magic in play. Last Dominick had heard, though, there wasn’t.

He didn’t answer about Desiree, but he made a note of Cane’s interest. When Ariel wasn’t around, he’d have to inquire deeper about why the thief before him seemed to want to die on her sword.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #36 on: March 27, 2015, 04:50:00 am »
He was starting to relax – probably not a good thing.  He let his gaze move from one face to the other as they spoke, studying the guards and nodding like he was analyzing their words of sage advice. 

“Pirates.  Nasty business.”  Cane leaned his chair back so two legs came off the ground, then let the chair fall back into place.  He noticed Ariel threw some more money in, but first Cane looked over towards the bar.  “Barney, you had any trouble with pirates?”

The bartender poured liquor into short glasses, allowing some to spill on the bar.  “Last month.  Took a whole convoy down.  Fired on the town square.”

“You don’t say.”  Cane shook his head like he couldn’t understand what the world was coming to.

He had a pair of queens showing.  He tapped the cards.  Looked up at Ariel.  “Me and ladies.”  A tried and true combination and something Ariel really shouldn’t mess with. 

“I’m gonna raise you fifty.”  He didn’t toss the coins into the table, but rather deliberately counted them out, his eye on the coins as he spoke to Dominic.  “Has Ariel ever told you how we met?”


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #37 on: March 27, 2015, 11:49:37 pm »
Ariel met the raise without hesitation, just a toss of coins into the center once again. Dominick knew he couldn't have much left after that raise, but everything about Ariel's look suggested it no longer mattered. ‘I wonder if I threw him an ace now, if it would matter.’ Of course, for all Dominick knew, Ariel had two aces hidden.

“Ariel hasn’t,”
Dominick answered as he dealt out that final card to make the five-hand, after taking a glance at Ariel to make sure he hadn’t folded. “Is it really a story you want to be repeating?” Dominick got the sense that any such storytelling was bound to upset Ariel further, and that was always dangerous.

So much in this place was made of wood. Though, at least Ariel kept drinking. Dominick imagined his head must be swimming by now. Perhaps that was the reason he wasn’t being such a smartass to Cane’s comments.

Indeed, Ariel’s head was a bit foggy. It was a feeling he hadn’t felt in a few months, or perhaps a year. It took quite a bit of alcohol to get him drunk, after all, and even more to make him stagger. He knew if he stood, he’d probably keel forward at the first step. It was difficult to focus his vision, and so he was no longer watching Cane as closely as before. How he got two queens was a mystery, though.

Ariel would swear one had been a Jack, even when he was later sober. His mind insisted Cane a cheat. So, of course, it didn’t matter anymore that Cane had two ladies. He wouldn’t be walking out of here.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #38 on: March 28, 2015, 12:36:59 am »
Ariel was surprisingly silent.  Cane noted the glassy eyed look, and wondered if it was just alcohol having an effect or something else.  He tipped his head and studied Dominic for a moment, thankful he hadn’t drunk any of his own coffee. 

“Maybe you’re right,” Cane said.  His voice grew softer, almost as though he was mumbling to himself. “Talk of Warston is never much fun.”

A third card joined the set in front of him, three smiling women and an obvious winning hand.  Still he tapped his fingers slowing on the table.  Thinking. He wasn’t afraid of Ariel, and he was tempted to take him for everything he had, but taking advantage of a drunk man wasn’t much fun either. This solved nothing.

The waitress returned.  “You don't like your coffee?”  She leaned down to whisper in his ear again, “You want something else?”

Cane turned his face to answer, only to be interrupted by Ariel’s shout.  “Bet!”

His gaze returned to the table.   He stacked up a few coins and handed them to the waitress.  “Buy yourself something pretty.”  And he hoped she’d move on as he flipped his cards face down.  “I’m out.”

He imagined one of two things was about to happen.  Either Ariel would gloat and make fun of him as he pocketed his winnings, or he would explode.  Neither seemed like something he wanted to sit for, so Cane stood, and scooped his much more meager pile of coins back into his hat.  “Goodnight Gentlemen.”


« Last Edit: March 28, 2015, 12:42:38 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2015, 06:35:05 am »
‘I’m flattered.’ Dominick actually was as he saw Cane refusing to drink. He didn’t have much of a reputation in the guard because most people didn’t quite know what he did. They knew he threw daggers, and some even knew he worked with herbs, but few understood how all of that worked together. Most who figured out his daggers were poisoned, died, after all.

Cane at least had an idea it wasn't just medicine that Dominick dealt with.

Ariel’s shout forced Cane to stop delaying. Cane’s choice was smart, in that it befuddled Ariel.
“What?” He didn’t seem to comprehend at first, and so Dominick started to rise.

He knew where this would go. It would happen this way no matter what, unless Ariel won the game.

Understanding came as Cane gave his farewell.
“You can’t!” He beat a fist on the table as he rose, catching the table on fire. Drunk Ariel had a limited control over his pyromancy.

‘You should have left Faine with Ariel, Matthew. You know I can’t stop an inferno.’
Well, he could, just not in a way Ariel would appreciate as much. He started to step back, and around, the pyromancer. His goal was to get behind Ariel.

Ariel paid him no heed.

Ariel instead flipped up Cane’s cards with his burning hand, and saw clearly what was there before they burned, showing Cane would have been victorious once again. He didn’t like pity victory, nor cheats. He made that painfully clear as he hurled a fireball at Cane, though its accuracy was rather…terrible. The throw of it nearly off-balanced Ariel. 


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2015, 07:40:11 am »
“Watch me,” Cane said. There was steel in the spine and the voice although all he felt was defeat.

His hands reached for the last of his own coins on the table. The flame singed the end of his shirt as Ariel brushed over the cards.  Cane jerked his arm away and snuffed the potential flare with his other palm.  The hat pressed against his chest as he took a step back.  The table was already in flames.

A woman screamed.  Someone ran for the door.

“I can’t win with you.”

Any other moment and he might have been pleased with the double entandre.  People thought because he was uneducated that he was stupid, but he loved clever words.  He lifted his chin with more defiance than pride.

Ariel did not appreciate his opponent’s wit.  He hurled his fireball, but Cane was ready.  The thief dodged left and lept over the bar.  Barney’s decorating choices were clearly poor.  Cane could feel the ready heat even with the piece of furniture between him and Ariel.  Nothing left to do but run.  He put his hat on his head, the golden coins digging into his scalp as he prepared to sprint for the rear exit.  Muscles tense he tried to sense where the source of heat was – only to find that the air was actually cooling.

Brow furrowed together, Cane decided to peak back over the rim of the bar.  He didn’t want to run into a trap.   

What he saw surprised him.  Ariel was flat on the floor.  A couple of patrons had banded together to control the fire.  The table was on its side, but a piece of smoldering curtain was dealing with the worst of things.  Someone else was pouring water on the blast point on the wall where his head might have been if he was leaning the right way.

“Huh,” Cane said to himself.  A bit like a stray dog he glanced nervously around wondering what to trust.  He inched his way out from behind the bar with a nervous energy that hinted he still wanted to run.   He laid a few coins on the bar, along with a silent look at Barney to imply that was for damages. 

Cane adjusted the brim of his hat and noted the damaged sleeve.  “Seems the guard is making a habit of ruining my shirts.” He couldn’t help the smile.  “Might make me think you don’t like me.”  Not that he’d assume Dominic liked him.  At the thought his humor would be misunderstood the grin flickered and the wary dog persona returned.  He side stepped, and then walked backwards towards the door.

« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 07:46:21 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2015, 07:55:31 am »
A blow to the back of the neck was all it took. Ariel fell onto the table and broke it, the coins spill out around him. Dominick rolled his eyes and went to collect those coins. Some could go to pay off the damages, and convince them to house Ariel for the night. The rest, Dominick was keeping, and if Ariel tried to argue he’d take it right to Matthew.

Dom would bet it all that Ariel would want this kept silent, if only for his dignity.


“Sorry about him,”
Dominick said as he approached the bar, and laid quite a few of those coins down before the man who appeared to be the owner. “If you wouldn’t mind getting him in a bed, I’d appreciate it. He can’t handle his alcohol.” Dominick didn’t stay around for the answer from the man, though.

Cane was leaving, and Dominick intended to follow, at least for a bit. He shoved the rest of the coins into a clothe pouch, and then ran after Cane,
“Hey!” He called once outside, and once he’d caught up he fell in step, “Desi’s dealing with the pirates with Matthew,” he answered the earlier question, “Along with Mael and Alyssa,” not that he imagined any of those other names mattered.

Dominick shouldn’t like him, if only for the guard’s sake, but he had never been so good with rules, either. Besides, Cane interested him. He hoped the tidbit of information would allow him some insight into things, but he wouldn't be surprised if Cane played evasive, either.
“Any reason you’re interested in her, besides a death wish?” Cane didn’t seem stupid, but the way he’d behaved around Desiree last time, that seemed the only reasonable answer. Death wish. “Though I’m starting to think that’s what you have, considering,” he thumbed back towards Ariel.

There was history with Ariel. Dom could probably get the explicit version from Ariel.

There was, no doubt, history with Desiree. Dominick wouldn’t be surprised, even if Desiree didn’t know. Desiree had already made it pretty clear to the guard that she didn’t remember much. Her actions, the fact she couldn’t seem to recall she even had a sister, and so much else, had made that clear. Matthew figured it was the fire at Warston that caused the amnesia. Permanent, according to him.


Beau

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2015, 08:58:12 am »
He had no doubt the shout was meant for him.  ‘Hey’ could mean anything, so Cane jogged a couple steps to see if Dominick was truly serious.  The man behind him didn’t break into a run at the thought of his suspect getting away, so Cane tempered his steps and eventually found himself walking next to Dominic on his way towards the stables.

“Oh, all my favorite people headed this way.”  The harbor was in view and Cane glanced over, clearly torn over hope and dismay.  There was a ship coming in to dock, but it didn’t appear to be a pirate vessel.

“Interested in who? Alyssa?” He blinked, all innocent.  One side of his mouth twitched with a suppressed smile, but his brain was busy working the angles.  He could continue with the humor or he could honestly answer.  He glanced to the side, studying his companion.  This close Cane could tell that Dominick was older than he thought.  Maybe that made him wise?  Cane didn’t trust easy, but he relished the opportunity to get to know Desiree’s partner a bit better.  The fact he’d imagined talking to the man before made it a little easier.  Following the flow of the conversation, he looked back at the bar where Dominick pointed.  He nodded as though just now putting all the pieces together.

“Ariel’s tried to kill me before.  Nothing new there.  I’m sure he’ll tell you I’m the one who burned down the Pyrrus mansion all those years ago.”  He held out his hands, “but, I’m not a pyromancer.”

The stables loomed large.  Cane didn’t enter the shadows, instead he went around the back side of the building.  Buck was in the narrow paddock, along with a black stallion.  A wagon was already hitched to the pair.  The black horse didn’t seem happy about the circumstance, and tossed his head, snorting like royalty forced to mingle with commoners.

Cane walked up to the fence and offered Buck a scratch on the nose.  “I’m cursed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  Did he have a deathwish?  He shook his head.  “Let’s just say my timing with Des used to be a lot better.” A shrug. “Not that it matters.” Although the faded grin showed clearly it did.

He looked over at Dominick.  “You got family, Dominick?”

« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 04:22:01 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2015, 09:46:48 am »
‘Don’t even.’ Dominick frowned when Cane tried to pass off his interest in Desiree as interest in Alyssa. It would have been more believable if he’d said Matt or Ariel.

Perhaps he understood the look, since he started to talk about his history with Ariel. Dominick nodded in understanding. It was never Ariel’s fault. The pyromancer would blame anyone else.
“Yeah, I’ll probably get blamed for this. Least no one will believe him.” He had that advantage. His word was better than Ariel’s.

Cane would never have that advantage. He offered insight into Desiree, but it said little. Dominick’s expression showed sympathy. He considered mentioning Desiree’s issue, and how Ariel had struggled with it for a while, since the two of them had once been friends. Well, according to Ariel, anyway. Desiree just seemed to go with it since she and Lord Pyrrus got on well enough when he was in town.

Cane changed the topic before he could say as much, and he eyed the horse,
“Depends on how you’re defining family.” He didn’t know if Cane had a family or not, but he had a horse that seemed to understand him better than some humans ever understood each other.

Dominick never knew his parents. Acacia was a surname he gave himself when Matthew insisted it was necessary to blend in. Of course, like so many of the Guard, he’d come to consider that dysfunctional group family.
“I can see you have more places to be,” the set-up with Buck was unusual. “So I’ll leave you to it. I have to make sure Ariel doesn’t burn anything else down when he comes to,” and hope Ariel didn’t figure out he was behind his unconscious state, or his drunk one.

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #44 on: March 29, 2015, 05:00:11 pm »
”That’s right.  The guard is family.”  Cane looked away, but his knuckles, white on the horses reins likely betrayed his latent anxiety over that answer.  He didn’t have something similar to fall back on.  Made the loss of friends all the harder.

“You want to watch fireworks sometime, tell Nathanial Pyrrus I said hello.” Cane offered a chuckle, but Dominick was already looking for an exit line.  The chime of a bell indicated the ship had docked and Cane did have places to be.  He took the cue and unlatched the gate to lead out the rig.

“Hey,” Cane said, eager for the at least one more word.  The expression on his face was sincere, minus the cocky grin he typically wore.  “Thanks, for…you know.”  Kindness from the guard was unheard of.  He wasn’t sure he trusted it, even though he craved it badly.  He figured Dominick might want some favor in return.  He was prepared to offer such, but the black horse head-butted him, shifting his focus back to the rig.

A snap of the reins.  “Behave.  Honest work is good for you.”  Cane bit his tongue rather than say the horse’s name.  He chose to bribe the animal with a piece of sugar.  Buck looked putout which made Cane smile.  “Wish I could hear what he’s thinking.”

Cane brushed his palm on his pants before offering it impulsively towards Dominick.  “You can tell Ariel I’m the one that hit him.  He may not believe you, but it certainly won’t harm my reputation.  I’ll be out of town within the hour.”  Rowan would hate not staying in an inn tonight but she’d get over it.  Cane figured his room was forfeit anyway and staying under the same roof with Ariel was impossible. “Pick up and go – that’s me.”

He wanted to add more, but figured he had no right to ask for anything. His eyes searched the other's face with a hungry quality. He wanted to believe Dominick would take care of what was important.  Funny after all this time that he thought Des was. He was risking a lot standing here, foolishly testing character.  Dominick could easily overpower him and offer him up to Matthew.  Any of the other guard likely would.

« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 08:17:43 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Royal Prelude
« Reply #45 on: March 29, 2015, 10:48:11 pm »
Cane clearly didn’t believe Dominick about the Guard. Considering his relations with the Guard, that was to be expected. Then again, it also further confirmed Dom’s theory—they were a unit, and they were thought of as one. Here, Dominick was acting like the black sheep. Usually that was Ariel’s job. “I think I’ll pass on that suggestion. Nathanial tends to hit what he aims at,” Dominick said when Nathanial was brought up.

When he stepped back, Cane called out the ‘hey’ to him. So, he paused, listened.
“You’re welcome.” He wouldn’t tell Ariel any other story than the truth. He had no reason to, and no need to sully Cane’s reputation any further. Besides, it ought to remind Ariel not to mess with him. He had enough poisons to kill a dragon.

There was nothing else to say. Cane’s nervous energy was clear in how he was babbling, so Dominick gave a wave, a smile and a,
“See ya around,” before he turned to let Cane do just that—pick up and go. No doubt, he’d see him around again, and he’d be smart enough not to buy anything from Cane.

He figured his ill-gotten gains from Ariel were enough of a return after his attempt to buy Buck, anyway. More than he’d spent, certainly, though likely not as much as Buck was worth.