20th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 7:21pm, The Steps Behind The Stalsbury Inn, Lockland.
Taaj al-Pour looked up at the stars questioning the very gods above, how did he get himself into this situation. He looked down seeing the women of his dreams wrapped in his arms, her face all blotchy from the tears that poured from her as she sobbed into his fine silken shirt.
Things had started out well, they had been on a successful date last night, and met again for lunch today; he was fascinated about every aspect of this driven courageous women. It saddened him how she was being used; he was still unsure how to break it to her that she traveled with wanted terrorist and thieves. As best he could tell, she was a craftsmen and likely oblivious to the nefarious deeds of her fellow crew members. They had agreed to meet for dinner tonight at the Stalsbury, the inn was of some repute and he’d needed to lean on Shaheed to help secure him a table here. His brother had given him a fair amount of ribbing for it, but all in all was ‘unwilling to stand in the way of true love’. Taaj would have preferred if Shaheed had left the mocking tone from his voice as well, but securing the table had been enough. Sadly is love, dear Mandy, had been late. Taaj had begun to panic that perhaps she not feel the same way, maybe she had given up on him. When she arrived it had been much worse. She wore a dress, simple yet elegant, Taaj could tell it was brand new, likely bought today for this specific meal, his Mandy was not used to the finer things, something he planned to correct. The dress however was stained with mud along one side, her hair was slightly dishevelled and her elbow was scrapped. Of course he had raced to her side, and quickly escorted her out the back of the restaurant where they could speak in private as to what happened. It had taken nearly half an hour and he still wasn’t sure of how all this had happened
“I just wanted to do something right for once… and I screwed it all up again…” he sobbed, he held her close as she did.
“Shhhhh, Shhhh… it’s ok, but Mandy, how could you think someone named ‘The Weasel’ was a baker, or even a good person?” he tried to ask, this only caused her to cry more deeply. And though he was thrilled to be holding her so close, the fact that she was upset shook him to the core
“He said if I didn’t get him the money, then ‘people would get hurt’… and Captain Alfrin… he’s not gonna be back in time, I didn’t know what else to do… he has Hiro’s egg, and I need to get that back… but… I screwed it all up, and now everyone I love is in danger…” again she broke off into staggered sobs
“Hush, hush now my dear Mandy” he soothed patting the back of her head. “I told you that I am a merchant right?” she looked up and nodded at him “well, there is a little more to it than that, my brother and I work for a large Merchant consortium… and problems like yours… that is what we get paid to sort out” Mandy looked up at him, hope in her eyes
“You’d help me, even if I was stupid?” she asked. He couldn’t help but crack a wide smile; he should thank the idiot loan shark for allowing him to be a hero in this women’s eyes
“You are a kind and good hearted person Mandy Doyle, and this person took advantage of that. Tomorrow my brother and I will pay him a small visit, collect your egg from him and explain how business is to be done in the future” Mandy wrapped her hands around him in a giant hug of excitement
“You’d do that for me? I’ll pay him back, I swear, I just need a little more time to get things in order and…”
“Hush now, let me speak with this “Weasel” fellow, and see what needs doing, in the meantime, if I may ask, why not clean your face and come enjoy one of the finest meals Lockland has to offer” she smiled and nodded taking his hand and allowed him to lead her back into the Stalsbury Inn.