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Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
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#1
(( Several weeks after Skyhold’s establishment, 9:41 - Skyhold, Mid-afternoon - Sati Adaar ))

Throughout his lifetime, Teagan had been faced with a good many threats to the safety of Redcliffe and its people. As a fortress, Redcliffe Castle was a bastion of enduring strength--one of the capstones of Ferelden’s security as a nation. But despite his best efforts, it was not impenetrable. Armies might not have laid siege in the traditional sense, but it seemed the Bannorn as a whole existed between attacks from various parties.

It was one thing to require outside aid because he could not handle the threats on his own. He’d deferred to Nathaniel Howe and the Wardens once, and to Aedan Cousland before him for that very reason. But it was another thing entirely to be forced to flee his home and arrive hat in hand in Denerim to beg his sort of nephew for assistance.

He’d fought. The Maker might have turned a blind eye to Thedas--if He’d ever deigned to look at all--but even He couldn’t deny Teagan had done everything in his power. Gathering military forces across the arling had been difficult and somewhat pointless, considering all of Ferelden was in chaos. Despite this, Kiley had secured enough information that he wasn’t completely blindsided by what they were facing, and he organized his troops accordingly.

Even still, nothing could have prepared him for the lengths the Venatori had gone to. For the second time in his life, Teagan had felt the thrall of blood magic. It poisoned his mind; forced him to stand down. An act that perhaps saved the lives of his family, in truth, though his pride and outrage wouldn’t allow him to admit that.

What he could admit was that Redcliffe would have been lost without the aid of the Inquisition. Though he’d been somewhat wary of reforming the order, it seemed a necessary measure considering how much of Ferelden was being lost to the endless onslaught of demons pouring from the rifts in the sky. And he couldn’t deny what they’d done for Redcliffe.

He’d intended to visit the so-called Herald of Andraste in Haven, after re-securing Redcliffe with the assistance of Alistair’s forces. That plan was utterly decimated by the complete destruction of the encampment, to the point where he was unsure there was even an Inquisition left to thank. Fortunately the Inquisitor managed to establish a fortress deep in the Frostback Mountains, rebuilding enough to secure a foothold.

The trip was… taxing, to put it mildly. The horse he’d bred from Bastian’s line was unaccustomed to such terrain, having been broken amongst the foothills of the Hinterlands. There were few places to allow the animals rest, and even Teagan was quite exhausted once he finally reached Skyhold.

He’d been greeted by the Inquisition’s ambassador, but had more interest in seeing the fortress as a whole than sitting inside a drafty chamber. As such, he’d found his way to the battlements, sharing in a brief exchange with Commander Cullen before being left to wait for the Inquisitor. Despite sending a letter beforehand, he’d only stated thus far that he wished to speak with her in person. There was no telling who might intercept correspondence these days, and so he’d kept his reasons to himself, holding onto them still as he looked out over the battlements.
 
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Sati Adaar

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#2
If there was one concession that the Inquisition’s enemies had to make towards them, it was that Sati Adaar didn’t stand on ceremony. Since their arrival at Skyhold, she had sat on the throne only twice; once to ensure it didn’t collapse beneath her, and once to pass judgement on Alexius. She received formal diplomats in the hall, but on the same level as them, and for people desiring a private audience she usually spoke to them in the war room. Her councillors had been instructed to avoid presenting her as though she were a monarch, and for the most part they’d respected that.

Today was such an example. She had been going over some papers with Leliana when Cullen had approached her to inform her that Arl Teagan of Redcliffe had arrived, and that he seemed contented to meet on the battlements. Sati excused herself and made her way there, turning over the quick briefing she’d received of the man in her head.

Leliana had known him briefly in Redcliffe, and from all reports, he was an honourable sort who’d never abandoned his people – whether in the middle of a Blight, a horde of undead, or an invasion of Tevinter magisters. Still, Sati was generally leery of people with titles. Even though she had one herself. And the message that had come ahead of his arrival hadn’t specified what he wanted to talk about.

She would reserve judgement until she spoke to him.

He was still on the battlements when she arrived, her long coat whipping a little in the wind. She’d thought Haven was cold; Skyhold was freezing. She missed the north. But she wouldn’t voice that. Her discomforts were largely minor, temporary things. She’d not been ousted from her home by blood mages, for a start.

“Arl Teagan.” She dipped her head to him. “It’s good to see that you’re well. What was it you wanted to discuss?”

Pleasantries were all very well, but she wasn’t going to spend a lot of time on them when she was more curious about why he was here.
 

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
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#3
It was still somewhat surprising to see a qunari, much to Teagan’s chagrin. He’d met few enough over the years, and had seen even fewer serving in prominent roles. It mattered very little, in the grand scheme of things. The high society in Orlais would consider her an exotic conundrum at best, but the court of public opinion was why he’d come here.

“Arl Teagan.” She dipped her head, and Teagan gave a bow that was more suited to the military. It felt a touch more appropriate. “It’s good to see that you’re well. What was it you wanted to discuss?”

“I appreciate your interest in brevity, Your Worship,” he said earnestly, though the title felt strange on his tongue. A man of Andraste he was not. “I am here because there are sentiments that cannot be adequately expressed in a letter.”

Sentiments and questions, but the latter could wait for a moment.

“I wanted to personally thank you for what you and the Inquisition did in Redcliffe. If you hadn’t intervened, I fear what would have become of it.” A frown overtook his features, etching deeper lines into his face. “I do not know what you personally experienced when facing the Venatori, but if it was anything like what I experienced…” He drew in a breath through his nose and let it out slowly, steam curling in front of him. “Let’s just say there are some things the mind was not meant to comprehend.”

It was difficult to separate some peoples’ faith from this situation. Teagan would not begrudge those who believed the Maker was testing them. They needed something to believe in, after all. But in his opinion, this was not the work of the Maker. It was the work of a few power-mad individuals testing the infrastructure of Ferelden as a whole, and it was rather humiliating that Redcliffe was found wanting in the face of such judgment.

Rationally Teagan knew the army he’d amassed was doomed from the start. A sizable force of mages was bad enough. Adding blood magic and… time manipulation? They were defeated before they’d even made their last stand.

That did not make it sting any less, however, nor did it put him in a particularly charitable mood when it came to the man who’d led the attack.

“May I ask what became of Alexius?” His jaw was held rigid, and he did not bother to conceal his disdain for the man.

Anything less than death was too good for him, frankly, and he was prepared to express that sentiment if need be. True, his feelings on the subject were more emotional than practical, but they did not mean they were wrong.
 

Sati Adaar

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#4
Like Sati, Arl Teagan apparently had little time for faffing around with small talk, although he expressed that thought somewhat more eloquently. He’d come all this way because there were things he could not put in a letter. It was quite a distance to travel, but as the increasing number of refugees in the valley below could attest, fewer people seemed to regard Skyhold as the frozen outpost on the edges of civilisation it had once been. Even now teams of workers were making the roads easier to travel, which was good news for the people making their way here – but also could aid their enemies one day.

Now wasn’t the moment to dwell on that particular concern, and she focused her attention on the Arl.

“I wanted to personally thank you for what you and the Inquisition did in Redcliffe. If you hadn’t intervened, I fear what would have become of it.” He scowled. “I do not know what you personally experienced when facing the Venatori, but if it was anything like what I experienced… let’s just say there are some things the mind was not meant to comprehend.”

“I saw enough to assuage any doubt I might have that the people on the opposite side genuinely believe they are fighting for a better world.” Sati was aware that fear could be a powerful motivator, but mercy for the more elevated operatives in Corypheus’ grab for power had been considerably diluted following being pitched into the future. “They are either enslaved, or wish to have absolute control over everybody else, with no thought for the practicalities of actually caring for people.”

Who wanted to rule over a shattered world, where lyrium split living people in half and demons poured out of rifts every few yards? Only somebody who had no business having any sort of power at all. Yes, Alexius had done a lot of it to keep his son alive, but he had killed countless others to do it. Sati’s consideration of his status as a desperate parent had been brief, to say the least.

“May I ask what became of Alexius?” Teagan’s frame had stiffened. At least with this she could give him some news she was certain he’d welcome.

“After Ferelden delivered him here, I struck off his head myself. Perhaps he might have been of more use aiding the mages he’d betrayed, but I couldn’t risk him running back to his master.” Sati turned her gaze to the yard. They hadn’t even built a scaffold for him. He had been dragged unceremoniously outside, feet gathering mud and churned leaves, and forced to kneel in the dirt. Up until the end he’d been asking her to explain what she’d meant by stating she would be killing him again. He’d been horrified to think that the spell would have worked and she still came back. Sati didn’t give him the satisfaction of an answer before she’d applied Ruin to his neck.

“Some had hoped I would make him Tranquil, but I consider it a barbaric practice. Death sufficed. His body was burned afterwards.”
 

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
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#5
“I saw enough to assuage any doubt I might have that the people on the opposite side genuinely believe they are fighting for a better world.” The air steamed at his nose, revealing the only evidence of his reaction, as somehow Teagan managed to keep his lip from curling. “They are either enslaved, or wish to have absolute control over everybody else, with no thought for the practicalities of actually caring for people.”

He certainly could not argue with that. He’d seen nothing else from the group that took Redcliffe from him. Admittedly they could have killed Teagan as well as his family--quite easily at the end, thanks to Alexius’ influence--but that clearly would have just been hastening the inevitable in their minds.

And why not take the opportunity to make another Fereldan dog-lord run whimpering to his king with his tail between his legs.

Anger threatened to overtake him. His fingers curled into his palm and then released, and Teagan finally asked after Alexius’ fate.

“After Ferelden delivered him here, I struck off his head myself,” she said, without any preamble. “Perhaps he might have been of more use aiding the mages he’d betrayed, but I couldn’t risk him running back to his master.”

Teagan released a breath, perhaps in attempt to let all of those negative feelings escape with it. They did not.

“I was prepared to argue for his execution. I would have gladly done it myself, or passed the sword to my wife.” For all that he had loathed being overtaken by blood magic, bearing witness to it must have been worse. “But that is Fereldan justice, I am afraid, and this is of greater concern to all of Thedas.” He regarded the Inquisitor and dipped his head. “Thank you for seeing that it was carried out.”

“Some had hoped I would make him Tranquil, but I consider it a barbaric practice. Death sufficed. His body was burned afterwards.”

It was impossible not to think of Connor when such “options” were touted. Teagan’s eyes closed for a brief moment, then opened to look out over the courtyard once more. “I do not know if you are well-versed in Redcliffe’s history, but during the last Blight my brother was poisoned, and my nephew Connor… he accepted aid from a Desire demon, to help his father. The castle was beset by undead; as soon as the sun went down, Redcliffe was a waking nightmare.” He swallowed, somewhat surprised at how fresh the memories were. “There are some who would have seen Connor made Tranquil. Even I was unsure what the best course of action was for the boy at the time. Coincidentally, that was also the first time I was controlled by blood magic.”

Teagan’s mouth tipped up in a humorless smirk. There was a day when he had been able to joke freely about such things, but that day was gone now.

“These days I cannot abide sentencing anyone to such a fate. You are right. It is barbaric. Even for the likes of Alexius.”

The matter was settled, and Teagan’s limbs were growing stiff in the cold. He gestured along the battlements. “Would you mind if we walked? I should like to feel my toes again.” There was still no humor in his smile, but at least he managed some warmth this time. Walking alongside the Inquisitor, he continued to his next point of business. “This is quite the impressive fortress, though I imagine the upkeep is extensive. It will take some time before Redcliffe is in similar working order again, but I will offer what aid I can to the Inquisition. There is no point in holding allegiances only to one’s homeland when we are in danger of losing everything.”
 

Sati Adaar

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#6
Teagan appeared relieved by the news that Alexius had been dealt with permanently. “I was prepared to argue for his execution. I would gladly have done it myself, or passed the sword to my wife. But that is Fereldan justice, I am afraid, and this is of greater concern to all of Thedas. Thank you for seeing that it was carried out.”

Sati had been concerned that the arl might have wanted an even harsher punishment for the man who had stolen his mind and driven him out of his home, but thankfully he shared her mindset on Tranquility. It was nothing more than a way to make a puppet of a former enemy, and she could think of no good reason for it other than a malicious pleasure in seeing a rival turned helpless. Teagan had his own reasons against it, which he shared with a potted version of the horrors Redcliffe had endured during the Blight. Teagan’s own nephew had been possessed.

“There are some who would have seen Connor made Tranquil. Even I was unsure what the best course of action was for the boy at the time. Coincidentally, that was also the first time I was controlled by blood magic.”

The first. Teagan hadn’t had a lot of luck.

They finished that part of the conversation and Teagan was eager to move from the chilly battlements. They started to stride towards the stairs. “This is quite the impressive fortress, though I imagine the upkeep is extensive. It will take some time before Redcliffe is in a similar working order again, but I will offer what aid I can to the Inquisition. There is no point in holding allegiances only to one’s homeland when we are in danger of losing everything.”

Sati let out a bark of laughter, and clapped his shoulder (gently – she had caused a few people’s legs to buckle when she did it normally). “I wish that every noble was so farsighted. Already I have letters coming in regarding people who were lost during the fighting, trying to claim land, or better yet, reporting that they think a rival of theirs is in collusion with my enemies. Dogs don’t fight over scraps when their world crumbles around them, they find safety. And yet people…”

It was the most effusive she’d been in a while, and she reined it in a bit. She had expected Teagan first to be annoyed that she’d executed Alexius instead of making him Tranquil, or to harangue her over how the whole matter of Redcliffe had been handled. He had surprised her pleasantly twice over. “And yes, provisioning Skyhold has taken some work. You would think that it would be impossible, but apparently my advisors and the people on the ground are capable of miracles.” She gestured out over the sea of refugee tents. It was still chaos, but the chaos was of people finding a space and making it their own rather than total confusion. “Before we know it, somebody will put up a permanent settlement down there. Then eventually there’ll be a town, where less than a generation ago, there was nothing.”
 

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
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Noble
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#7
He wasn’t entirely sure what he’d expected from this visit. He’d come to Skyhold knowing only that the trip needed to be made in person. Yet the Inquisitor seemed less the pious, stoic bringer of salvation--or destruction, depending on who was asked--and more the kind of alarmingly average person who had accepted her duty and was doing the best she could.

Teagan could certainly respect that.

There was a chance his view of her was warped, of course. Men saw what they wished to see, not what was actually there. But if that was true in this case, Teagan would take the small comfort of camaraderie in such a broken world.

Sati laughed and clapped his shoulder, giving him some idea that he wasn’t completely mad. “I wish that every noble was so farsighted. Already I have letters coming in regarding people who were lost during the fighting, trying to claim land, or better yet, reporting that they think a rival of theirs is in collusion with my enemies. Dogs don’t fight over scraps when their world crumbles around them, they find safety. And yet people…”

“People are sadly more motivated by pride than self-preservation,” he agreed. “There are many old, stubborn families in Ferelden, and they wish to come out of this with more than those who oppose them. I suppose the thought is that someone will surely save us,” he gave her a wry smile, “congratulations, you’ve apparently been elected that someone.”

Her manner changed somewhat, and Teagan wondered if perhaps he wasn’t letting a touch of his bitterness show. After all, he’d send aid to the bannorns safeguarded by Redcliffe’s army, yet he’d received little support in return. On some level he understood it, but if Redcliffe fell, so too did they. And if Ferelden as a whole was swarmed by demons…

“And yes, provisioning Skyhold has taken some work. You would think that it would be impossible, but apparently my advisors and the people on the ground are capable of miracles.” The Inquisitor gestured to the courtyard, and Teagan took in the sight of a veritable encampment. Only these weren’t soldiers. They were refugees. “Before we know it, somebody will put up a permanent settlement down there. Then eventually there’ll be a town, where less than a generation ago, there was nothing.”

“We nobles may fight over scraps, but the people of Ferelden as a whole understand there is no future without a strong and united foundation. Though you must know that better than anyone, at this point,” he said with a smile. “You’ve cultivated that very spirit here.”

They walked for a time, Teagan glad for the opportunity to stretch his legs and inspire some warmth back into his muscles. Alexius’ fate was no longer a concern, though it would be some time before he ceased feeling the sting of that defeat. For now, he turned his attention to the future.

“Commander Cullen mentioned you are seeking allies beyond Ferelden. A wise choice, considering all that has happened.” Though many Fereldans would not admit it. “Have you made much progress thus far?”
 

Sati Adaar

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#8
The Arl had been one of few nobles not to run to the Inquisition, cap in hand, once their emerging power became obvious. And of all people he would have had the most reason. But Sati hadn’t even heard about his displacement until she’d got to Redcliffe, and after that point things had happened very quickly. The memory of her fall into the future with Dorian was still enough to twist her mouth in a grimace of disgust. Alexius may have been motivated by the desperation of keeping his son alive, but at the cost of all those people? Sati had been unable to countenance it. Even without those events transpiring, a lot of people had been thrown to the wolves by the manipulations of the Venatori. Small wonder that Teagan was about as pissed as she was.

“There are many old, stubborn families in Ferelden, and they wish to come out of this with more than those who oppose them. I suppose the thought is that someone will surely save us.” He smiled. “Congratulations, you’ve apparently been elected that someone.”

Not something Sati particularly wanted to dwell on. Instead, she steered the conversation towards Skyhold, and the challenges it had presented. She was proud of the work the builders had done. Even though materials and proper tools had been scarce at the beginning, you would hardly know now how much of a state the fort had been in on their arrival. More than that, though, she was proud of what the Inquisition was doing. Her whole war against Corypheus aside, they had successfully provided a safe haven for hundreds displaced by the mage-templar war that would have occurred regardless of what else was going on.

“We nobles may fight over scraps-” interesting that he didn’t displace himself from that statement, in a refreshingly honest fashion – “but the people of Ferelden as a whole understand there is no future without a strong and united foundation. Though you must know that better than anyone, at this point. You’ve cultivated that very spirit here.”

Sati smiled. “It has been our aim. We’re not merely building a force; our eyes are also to what will happen after all of this is over.” Assuming she wasn’t dead by then, and it was better to think positively about that sort of thing. Sati hadn’t been afraid of death since she was a child, but she had no intention of putting the people in that valley in a situation they hadn’t volunteered for. They had come with hopes of a new home. She aimed to provide.

How different it was from wandering from one contract to the next, with little on her mind beyond spending her pay and making sure the people on her team didn’t charge into a fight too fast and fall into a glyph.

“Commander Cullen mentioned you are seeking allies beyond Ferelden. A wise choice, considering all that has happened. Have you made much progress thus far?”

Arl Teagan didn’t seem the type for idle gossip, but Sati would limit what she told him nonetheless. Nothing he couldn’t have guessed at for himself. “We’re seeking an alliance with Orlais.” It was better than ‘I saw Celene was dead in the future and we need to fix that’. “In fact, just about every nation. I have little doubt our enemy will have done his best to infiltrate every court in Thedas. But it will not be to Ferelden’s detriment,” she added. “I know there are some in Orlais who would be only too keen to see Ferelden become a vassal state once more. I have no interest in furthering that ambition. Any work between us would be towards the common enemy presented at Haven.”
 

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
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#9
“It has been our aim. We’re not merely building a force; our eyes are also to what will happen after all of this is over.”

Teagan nodded, his gloved hands seeking the edges of his cloak for a bit more warmth. "I am curious about that as well," he admitted. "The immediate threat must be dealt with, but if we as a nation are to move on from this..."

There were many ways in which Teagan differed from his brother, but over the years he'd learned the value of looking forward and evaluating a situation from as many angles as possible. Once their little world-ending problem was dealt with, there'd be a great deal of rebuilding across Ferelden and beyond. Resources currently funneled to the Inquisition would be scarce at that point, until tradespeople had the opportunity to work again. Tensions would spark, old feuds would strike up once more, and the Inquisition would exist amongst it all.

Such a concentration of power made Teagan a bit wary, but there was no need to dwell on it currently.

He asked instead about Sati's progress in obtaining allies.

“We’re seeking an alliance with Orlais. In fact, just about every nation. I have little doubt our enemy will have done his best to infiltrate every court in Thedas. But it will not be to Ferelden’s detriment." Teagan's brow arched at that, his curiosity piqued. "I know there are some in Orlais who would be only too keen to see Ferelden become a vassal state once more. I have no interest in furthering that ambition. Any work between us would be towards the common enemy presented at Haven.”

"I'm glad you are standing firm on this point. There are many who would take advantage of our situation, especially in Orlais." And despite the fact that they were dealing with the same cataclysm. "My wife and I have been serving as ambassadors of sorts. It wasn't my first choice, but when your sort-of nephew asks a favor, how do you refuse?" His lips tipped up in a smile, an amused glint in his blue eyes. "I'm sure your council have secured contacts, but if you require any assistance on that front, you need only ask."

Though it was a position they shared, Kiley had taken quite well to it. Fereldans might not have imagined her as especially diplomatic, but the Orlesians they'd met seemed to respect her ability to play the Game. They made a formidable team, and Teagan imagined the strides they'd made thus far would help to smooth some of the rough edges.

"You mentioned our enemy has likely infiltrated courts beyond Ferelden. You believe he's compromised others in positions of power, then? Perhaps those like Alexius who will take advantage of any unrest."
 

Sati Adaar

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#10
As with so much else about her new position, Sati had accepted the need to understand and talk about politics with a weary resignation. Unlike many would have assumed, however, she was not entirely new to it. She had negotiated contracts on behalf of the Valo-Kas before, and Ser Lehmann had emphasised the need to find peaceful solutions before resorting to the sword, teaching all his pupils the art of diplomacy. Sati had come to it as easily as a cat to a bath, but her mentor’s persistence had paid off in the end.

She hoped he’d have been proud of her if he could see her now, but she had no way of telling.

As it was, she understood the need to reassure Teagan, as a Fereldan, that an alliance of the Inquisition and Orlais would not turn sour for his country later on. Fereldans were a tough bunch of people, still going after a Blight and a civil war had nearly ripped the country to shreds, and any attempt to return them to an annex of the Orlesian empire would end only in pointless bloodshed. She’d chosen the right words; Teagan seemed mollified.

"I'm glad you are standing firm on this point. There are many who would take advantage of our situation, especially in Orlais. My wife and I have been serving as ambassadors of sorts. It wasn't my first choice, but when your sort-of nephew asks a favor, how do you refuse?" King Alistair, presumably. "I'm sure your council have secured contacts, but if you require any assistance on that front, you need only ask."

“I will be sure to let you know. And should you have trouble, the Inquisition will stand ready to assist.” Especially since they’d taken in a lot of mages who had wrecked havoc in Redcliffe. Sati had determined they owed the region a few favours for that one.

"You mentioned our enemy has likely infiltrated courts beyond Ferelden. You believe he's compromised others in positions of power, then? Perhaps those like Alexius who will take advantage of any unrest."

“It would be stupid to assume otherwise.” They were heading down from the battlements now, meandering in the general direction of the tavern. “And Corypheus, as big a bastard as he is-” and she meant that in a literal sense, he’d towered over her even before he knocked her down and then picked her up again by one arm – “isn’t stupid. I doubt he’d have revealed himself at Haven if he hadn’t been sure he had measures to explain away the massacre he planned to others.”

She scratched her thumb and fingernail together, a small gesture to displace her agitated memory. “Also – I saw things, at Redcliffe. Things that gave me a hint as to how things would go, if we fail. It is clear that some of the things which happened, or would happen, would occur because spies within the courts took down their rulers at an apt moment. We have some weeding out to do – any help you could give towards that would be appreciated.”

She indicated the tavern. “Talking business dries my throat. Will you take a drink?”
 
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