Author Topic: The Game Begins  (Read 8298 times)

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The Game Begins
« on: January 23, 2008, 10:08:55 AM »
The wind made short, clipped attempts at stirring Sigvald\'s beard. The best breeze only flattened the patch of hair to his chin, making him itch irritably. He had spent years trimming the beard to get it just right. He could now proudly say, that it was ready for any feast. The problem was, the scratching. Letting out a deep sigh, he lifted his gaze cautiously as the last gust of wind settled. The campsite was empty. Magnus and Valdis had packed their things and moved into the city itself, and the rest of the band had either gone their own ways or taken up residence at the farm. His own belongings had been safely delivered to his cottage.

He hadn\'t been waiting long, the ground where the campfires had been stomped out was still warm to the touch, and a hawk gliding above had only completed a dozen circles. Sigvald smiled as he watched it slowly rise on the drifts, and closed his eyes just in time to save himself from another gust of wind. A cold day, that was for sure.

A guard from the farm was sitting nearby, picking dirt out of his oily black hair. The man hadn\'t said a single word to Sigvald, and only looked up occasionally to coldly watch him. It made him feel like he was being scouted out for prey, just like the hawk above was likely hoping to spot a catch from higher up on the drifts.

Just like Dag to send a guard to make sure his estate manager made it home safely. The Gulbrand merchant seemed convinced Sigvald would fall into a well if the thing was covered and latched. Of course, if Dag didn\'t think he was an idiot, this whole plan with Ryanna would never have worked. Well, would never have come to fruitation. Making the plan work was another thing. Something he hoped she could pull off in the next few weeks.

Turning an eye back to the city, he crossed his arms across his chest and waited patiently for Ryanna to return. The guard never bothered to ask why he was waiting. A good thing, perhaps he would just think Ryanna was a trollop to entertain him for the evening. Dag wouldn\'t hear about something like that.

Offline Kysis

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2008, 01:08:38 PM »
It had been a quick run home, all the more since the camp site was not too far from the city gates, a blessing.  Ryanna dashed into her home, flinging open her wardrobe and riffling through all the dresses she had never worn.  It took fetching her neighbor to get into the corset, but once that was done, Ryanna easily slid into a green dress, waist as thin looking as it really was, though her breasts looked a little bigger than they really were, a touch of cleavage showing at the low-scooping line of her dress.  Ryanna spun around a few times before stepping into some flat, slipper like shoes, stuffing the papers in a leather case for safe keeping before dashing back.

The corset had taken the longest, so Ryanna had no idea if she would be late or early.  Ryanna grabbed her skirt in both hands, dashing off with the long hem held up a little for ease of movement, case slung over her shoulder.  It must have been an odd sight, seeing Ryanna hurtling through the Oberon streets and then rocketing out through the gates.  The guards there probably did not even recognize her.  There was a little shadow above her eyes, a thin amount of charcoal rimming them.  Some powder made her freckles less noticeable.  Her lips were painted a soft peach, glossy and lovely and all that frilly, girly stuff Ryanna cared nothing for.

Soon enough she was back at the camp, and surprised to see it was no longer a camp.  Damn.  It had already been dismantled.  Oh well, Ryanna could hunt down Magnus in the city easy enough, and definitely find that woman easily enough, just follow the wagging tongues.  Ryanna did not care.  She was above such things, right?  Maybe not.  Ryanna took a deep breath, calming herself.  She straightened out her dress, head held high as she did her best noble gait towards where Sigvald was awaiting her, and apparently with some guards.  Hopefully they did not talk with her.  She had not yet gotten all that guard out of her accent yet.

Ryanna wanted to sound well schooled, cultured, ladylike, keen and smart, like the kind of lady a rich man might hire for the job she was posing in.  Of course, with all the bad habits she had gotten from the guards, this would be hard.  It was just a matter of always being aware and vigilant.  She couldn’t let Dag catch her off guard.  Ryanna had a dagger tucked neatly away in her corset for that anyway.

“I am all ready to go.”  The snobby, aristocratic accent Lystra Maracatte had rolled smoothly from Ryanna’s mouth, even the young woman surprised, though she fought to hide it.  Well, working for the noblewoman briefly had really helped in this bit, even if it scared the living wits out of her.  At least the Lord Liari was not like that.
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2008, 04:02:21 AM »
Sigvald let out a shallow sign of relief, and smiled sheepishly at the guard. He had to play the part right. Ryanna had gone above and beyond. Where had she learned to speak like that? Dag would love her. Dag would fear her. Smiling, he offered a bow and then motioned with an arm that she should follow closely. He would have offered his arm, but a noble lady would hardly want to touch a lowly farmer like him. The guard would find the whole thing amusing, for sure. In fact, he already looked like he was stiffling a laugh with a large yawn.

He couldn\'t wait for the planting season. Everything seemed so barren, the cold air unfriendly. Not to mention, he also had nothing to do. Over the next few weeks, he\'d be stuck wandering, or waiting. It meant he could observe Ryanna\'s actions for Magnus, but it also meant that he would have to put up with Dag\'s nagging and off remarks. With Ryanna in disguise, she\'d probably have to join in.

Letting out another sigh, he turned off of one path and onto another. It didn\'t take long for the tall, boarded walls of the training compound to come into view, and shortly after the sprawling farm sat ready for their arrival. A shiver shot through his spine as he realized there were people waiting for them as well.

Dag stretched as he spotted Sigvald, legs cracking as his boots dug furrows in the ground. The guards that had carried the chair outside for him waited nearby, eyes locked on Sigvald\'s guest. To his other side, the gardener stood watching with a curious smile. Dag didn\'t know how the man had convinced him to hire a gardener. He couldn\'t even grow anything, not at this infernal time of the year. True, he had a small herb garden in the kitchen going now, kept warm by the cooking fires. What good were herbs? They had little medicinal value and they tasted bland. He could market them if he had more, but the cache was small. The old man was small, wirey, and quite ugly. Gardening was probably the best of the jobs he could find.

Letting his own eyes trail back to Sigvald and his guest, his eyebrows arched. He expected it to be a girl (what else would the farmer be up to that wasted so much time?) but he had expected a homely, dirty girl. This one was too rich for Sigvald\'s taste. Standing, he motioned for the guards to take his chair away, and offered a deep bow as Sigvald approached. "Don\'t waste any time now, who is your magnificant guest?" He made it obvious that the bow wasn\'t for Sigvald, and hid his scowl with a wolfish grin.

Offline Kysis

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2008, 04:14:22 AM »
Ryanna kept up just fine, keeping her head held high, nose up a little.  Her nose was small, but looking down it at people would not be hard, if she wasn’t so damn short, that is.  It was frustrating.  Ryanna kept such thoughts to herself, holding in her excitement and surprise at just how sprawling the farm actually was.  It was a compound!!!  Ryanna kept in her worry over that, realizing now how much money Dag had backing him.  It was quite a lot.  From what Rico had told her, Kysis owned a city, so it couldn’t be that bad, but still!  It was huge!

And it looked like Dag was lazy.  A chair?  This was going to be easy.

Keeping her arms airy and at her sides, Ryanna let her eyes scrape over Dag, surveying him from head to toe, her lips pressed into a straight, firm line.  Ryanna made sure she looked unimpressed by what she saw, an eyebrow arching up as Dag asked about her without addressing her.  Well, luckily Dag was not as refined as people like the Maracatte family.  They would have spotted her as a commoner from a mile away.

“My name is Westra May, though you must address me as Lady May.  Am I understood?”

It was definitely something Ryanna could imagine Lystra Maracatte saying, which was perfect.  That fiendish woman was feared and respected, which Ryanna would need in order to snoop around like she really wanted to.  Otherwise, Dag would watch her hawkishly, without regard to what kind of power she might have in the city.  Of course, Ryanna had no power in the city as it was, but still.  He didn’t need to know that.
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2008, 04:32:39 AM »
Sigvald smiled sheepishly at Dag from behind Ryanna. His part was small, and Dag would dismiss him soon enough. He just wondered at where Ryanna had picked this all up. It made him realize just how little he knew about the girl. Did Magnus know? The man seemed to pick up the oddest bits of information, and he had seemed rather confident about the plan.

The guard that had escorted them blinked, and quickly fought back a wolfish grin. Dag caught it, and did his best to hide his own grin by putting on a charming smile and dipping into a bow. "My apolagies, Lady May. Forgive my ignorance and allow me to introduce myself to such an esteemed guest." He kept the sarcasm out of his voice, but just barely. Behind Ryanna, the guard was shaking his head at the gardener, the pair barely restaining themselves at the humor of the bureaucratic situation. One person putting on a mask for the other, the other putting on a mask for who knew who. Compliments and formalities would be exchanged all day if need be, just to see who was more dignified and important. Except, of course, they both knew that Dag didn\'t have the patience for that and unless the girl showed some sort of use to him soon, he would find one she might not find as amusing.

"I am Dag Gulbrand. We do not typically get many guests around here, certainly not one of your standing. How can a humble merchant like myself help you?" Dag said with a drawn out wave of his arm. Something about the girl seemed familiar, but he hadn\'t met any of the lords and ladies in the city yet. What could it be? Why was she here, anyways? Sigvald couldn\'t have netted or paid for someone of her level, so unless Lord Liari was using spies now he just couldn\'t place her. She certainly wasn\'t interested in one Dag Gulbrand.

Offline Kysis

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2008, 05:57:29 AM »
“You can’t.” Ryanna was referring directly to his statement about how he could help her.  The statement was not entirely true.  He could help by keeping his eyes averted from her a lot of the time, so she could snoop around without him noticing.  Of course, Dag was not likely to let her go completely unwatched.  That was fine.  Ryanna could be sneaky.  Her father had always worried that she could go either way.  She could become a fine guard or a nimble thief.  Luckily, Ryanna would rather be a guard, but feared herself too short.  Oh well.

“However, I do believe we have a…. mutual friend.”  Ryanna let one of her hands flick her carrying case gracefully open, slowly pulling out the document with Weiss’s seal on it.  It would tell him that she was a watchdog, and probably one with a mean bite.  That thought kept a wicked smile on her lips (well, as wicked as perky little Ryanna could muster, she wasn’t Maracatte, after all). “This should be of interest to you.”

Ryanna offered the document forward, but did not move to hand it to him.  He would have to walk to her.  That was the way it went in the courts, so why not see how it felt to be a pretentious bitch?  Ryanna was disliking it already, but it was a bit fun, especially with someone as bad as Dag at the butt end of it.  Yes, she was actually going to enjoy herself.  The more mental ire to Dag the better.
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2008, 06:40:16 AM »
Dag\'s smile dissapeared, and he briskly stepped forward, eyes locked on the papers. "Excuse me, but I need to reassure myself of their... originality." Eyes scanning the papers closely, he frowned. They looked real. He had seen enough of Weiss\' letters to know his style. Motioning for the guard to come over, he had him look at the papers as well. Thad was in charge of Dag\'s correspondence with Weiss. It was a job he liked giving to new recruits, to ensure they understood the importance of Dag\'s work. Of course, he had as many guards watching to make sure the papers weren\'t tampered with as he did guards to make sure Sigvald didn\'t bring any strangers around without his knowing.

The guard stepped back and nodded to Dag, no longer having to force himself to not laugh. Things had gotten serious rather quickly.

"Well, Lady May. If there is anything I can do to serve you." Dag bowed again, much lower than before. "Or I can do to serve Weiss\' interest, do not hesitate to command me." His bow hid his scowl, barely restrained anger at the meddling Weiss and this trollop he had sent.

At a wave from Dag, the guard headed back to the compound with the gardener, Sigvald trailing after slowly. That just left it to Dag and this Lady May. There was nothing he could do to dismiss her. The compound was hers to explore.

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2008, 06:51:40 AM »
Command.  It was such a lovely word, and it took every ounce of her will not to giggle at it.  Command.  Ryanna had never had command over anything, or anyone.  So this, this was entirely new.  She would have fun with it, as much as she could without compromising the situation.  Ryanna still had to play a lady, after all.

But some ladies could be down right bitchy.  Like Maracatte.  Or worse even!  Mentally, Ryanna giggled, and it only showed in the gleam of her eyes.

"Perhaps you can start by giving me a tour?  Just to be sure the money has been well spent, of course."

Yes, of course, show me everything!  Everything I say!  Ryanna kept that last part to herself.  This was going to be harder than she thought, with all the humoring, almost maniacal side-thoughts she kept having.  Oh dear.  Hopefully she didn\'t burst out laughing in the middle of the tour.  That would be bad!  Really bad!
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2008, 07:36:19 AM »
Dag\'s eyes twitches, another false smile thrown aside. "I can assure you, his funds are put to the best use." Turning towards the farm, he offered his arm for the lady as he ran though his mind all the possabilities for Weiss\' suspicion. He must have heard about Lord Liari. Competition for wares was one thing they had considered, but not of this quality. Weiss was probably more curious about what he meant to do about Liari than how he spent the money.

Until Lady May directly hinted at that, he\'d stick with a simple tour of the compound. Waiting to see if she would take his arm, he offered a list. "There\'s a barracks, the cottage itself, the storeroom, a training compound for the guards, and a smaller cottage where the cretin that just escorted you resides. Which would you like to see first?" He swept his other arm, the one not being offered, across the view of the farm.

With another pause, he decided to throw a few more details into the mix, to buy his guard sometime. "The actual forges haven\'t been set up yet, and we\'re going to build a more permanent storehouse for goods and the steel. All things I await the next funds for." He didn\'t add that he already knew that Weiss was on his way. Lady May would likely want to feed him that detail, something to make him sweat. Until he knew what she was really after, he would sweat, too.

Offline Kysis

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2008, 07:46:36 AM »
"Start when the training compound, then the barracks.  I do not care where that commoner lives.  The cottage can be saved for last, I suppose."  Ryanna wanted to see the first two for her own amusement, but the strict snap of her voice made it seem like business.  Yes, business was a biggest matter to press, considering Weiss was a business partner to Dag, and Ryanna was supposed to be working for Weiss. "And do not make me linger long in the sun.  I would like to keep my skin fair."

Ryanna had remembered hearing Maracatte say something like that last part before.  The woman prided her pale skin, so vain.  It was sad.  Ryanna took a soft, dainty hold on Dag\'s arm, noticing it was not the arm of a warrior.  He stood no chance.

"I hope these facilities of yours can complete with the castle\'s forge at least.  Of course, there is Zyen\'s forge and the Liari weapons to worry over as well."  Ryanna had just heard of Zyen not long ago, and was rather irritated.  Didn\'t anyone realize the Lord Liari was laying claim to this market?  Hmph.  Stupid people.  Ryanna couldn\'t stand them, so foolish with their money, burning it away. "I hear Liari even has an arrangement with the guards to provide them with all new weaponry."
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2008, 08:01:01 AM »
Dag chuckled. "Zyen hardly worries me. It will be looked into. As for Lord Liari... do not worry yourself over him. Arrangements with guards are simply that, arrangements. Things change." His smile was thin, eyes cold, and he didn\'t press the topic.

Guards at the gate of the training compound stepped aside and let the door swing outward, a third guard standing within. Beyond, several guards sparred with wooden weapons. It was a heated exchange, but wounds were tended to quickly. In truth, it looked more like the sort of training soldiers would recieve, rather than lowly farm guards. He had Magnus to thank for that. He trained his mercenaries well, and now that they had disbanded they worked for Dag. They kept up old traditions well.

One man with a broken nose that looked like it had just recently stopped bleeding was sitting off to the side, keeping tally on each guards wins and losses.

Dag pointed him out. "The guards that score the most wins in a day are in charge of drills the following day. Those that score the most losses, are put on cleaning duty. It keeps morale balanced, and keeps them moving towards improvement. It also lets us cycle who\'s in charge so that they all get experience at it. We only have a dozen or so guards at any given time, when they\'re not off delivering messages or escorting goods. So it\'s good to keep things changing." Each many also tended to specialize in one weapon as he practiced, but he figured she could see that for herself. That also meant that a guard could face a swordsman one minute, and the next have to fend off attacks from someone with an axe. He wanted them ready for any eventuality.

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2008, 08:08:35 AM »
"Unless Liari gets untangled from the Captain\'s bedsheets, I doubt that arrangement will change."  Ryanna kept a cool voice as she said this, watching the training with interest.  If she wasn\'t in a dress, she would want to get into it, armed with a spear or unarmed, for that matter.  Ryanna could kick high and hard.  She was very proud of that fact.

Of course, that was just a rumor.  Ryanna was not sure, but since the Captain had been spotted with an engagement ring of some luster, it seemed like the rumors were true.  What else could she say?  Nothing, really.  Ryanna looked to the man with the broken nose, gaze full of disdain.  He was obviously not that good.

"It is a fine system.  Are you preparing for a business or a war?"
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Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2008, 08:22:01 AM »
"Like I said Lady May, do not concern yourself with Lord Liari." As to her question about the training, "War is business, as the saying goes." Dag shook his head, as an afterthought. "I\'m afraid I have too few men to be anything more than a nuisance. My aim is more a well-founded business, and good men to protect my investments. Just as Weiss means to protect his own investments, right?"

The guard from before returned with a scroll, and handed it off to Dag. Nodding to the man, Dag waved him away again and unrolled the paper. "I have a list of wines here if you would like to wet your pallet. I wouldn\'t want any harm to come to that, nor do I want any harm to come to your fair skin." He kept the list for merchant business, but was glad he had it now. He couldn\'t think of a time he had seen a person of her standing without a drink. He didn\'t care if she took one or not, but he didn\'t want any slights against her. Weiss would likely recieve a report on this entire thing.

He noted that the guard still stood ready at the side, even if his gaze did keep drifting back to the practice. Although his newest guard, he had already defeated each of the others, and was longing for a good challenge. That was one thing he was counting on for his plans concerning Liari. The gardener seemed to have an odd talent for fighting as well, although he kept claiming his back was too sore for any serious combat. The way he had disarmed that cutpurse had been... interesting. Just a few trumph cards for dealing with Liari.

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2008, 01:02:52 PM »
Do not concern yourself with the Lord Liari.  That in and of itself worried her.  Kysis was more than just a skilled guard.  He had survived a battle with death itself.  But still.  Ryanna had to tell the Lord Liari somehow, without him knowing what she was doing.  Maybe she could tell Rico, and he would pass on the knowledge discretely.  Oh, now she was really nervous, and that nervousness might actually make her slip up, which had her heart in her throat.  It was pounding so loud she was surprised no one in the room could hear it.

"No wine for now.  I like to keep my head clear for business. Maybe... later." A smile twisted on her lips, Ryanna giving Dag a sideways glance before looking back to the training.  She would be interested to see some of the guards battle, so she could see weaknesses in them, perhaps warn the Lord Liari about it too.  Dag was definitely up to something bad.  She just had to find more conclusive proof.

"Perhaps I can watch some fighting rounds later?  I would love to see what they are capable of."  Ryanna purred this, that smile remaining on her lips.  She was sure she was getting herself into something she did not want to be in, but she had to find out.  If there was any threat to her boss, she had to know it, and now.  Hopefully there were no stealth assassins in their ranks.

"But first, you really should finish this tour.  This facility is definitely up to standards.  We can move on to the next."
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Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

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Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2008, 02:13:50 PM »
Dag nodded and rolled the scroll back up, carefully so that he wouldn\'t have to make another. Tucking it under his arm, he smiled at the sudden interest Lady May was taking. Was that approval, or was this a ruse? If approval, than Weiss would certainly fund his other ideas once he arrived. If a ruse, then what was she after now?

Gesturing towards the guard standing nearby, Thad, he patted the man on the back. "Thad here is one of my newer guards. He\'s already beaten all of the others. If you want to see some sparring, he would be happy to fight for you, or direct whatever fight you wish to see." Thad shrugged, raked his fingers through his lumpish black hair. Dag was pleased that the man was so unkempt. It would be a slight against Lady May that couldn\'t be openly questioned. Thad was certainly his top guard.

"This way then." Dag led them back out of the compound, and around to the front of the barracks. She had already seen a great deal of the outside. They had traveled to the back of it to get to the gate of the compound. There was no guard stationed at the doorway. It wasn\'t necessary. Guards kept their arms with them at all times, or on racks in the training compound.

Opening the door for Lady May, and following behind, he motioned for Thad to stay outside.

Bunkbeds were spaced evenly, and a small storeroom sat at the end for food rations and cleaning gear. Three of the guard\'s beds were occupied, resting for night duty, and the cook\'s servant lay with a nurse tending to his fever. Simple, effective set up. Sanitary as well. The floor was boarded, with slats of thinner wood filling the gaps so that nothing could seep into the room. "We keep things clean here. I don\'t want anyone coming down with anything."

Pausing to regard the cook\'s servant, he sneered. "The boy was dared to eat something. He won\'t tell us what, but it doesn\'t matter. As soon as he\'s better, I\'m sending him back to his parents." A boy that would take a dare at his own risk might very well take one at his guard\'s expense, or his own. That thought was not a pleasant one.