"You know, I let you travel with me because I thought you weren't like other women. A detour for shopping was not something I had planned for."

Whist sighed and sat heavily on one of the couches arranged tastefully with ridiculously ugly upholstery. The large grey dog at his side huffed agreement and plopped his head in his master's lap, whimpering until Whist began scratching his neck fondly.

The woman named Li'ain standing across from him with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face, was regal and beautiful, possessing still all the grace and authority she had held as a princess, and she was once again frustrated to near screaming by the man lounged in a most ungraceful fashion.

"Look around you self-centered fool." She snapped. "Does this look like the normal crowd to you?"

Whist perked up an eyebrow and glanced over towards the center of the mall where a massive throng had gathered. His skin-dyed face puckered into a curious expression, and the beast, Blink, began growling softly. The group he saw gathered was indeed of a strange and diverse sort, made of all odd shapes and sizes and many exuded a tangible aura of power.

"Ok…I'm listening…" He said, turning back to Li'ain.

"It's a tournament."

"In a mall?"

"Yes, and I know you're about to make some witty remark so just shut it and keep listening." Whist scowled but held his tongue. "We can't keep traveling aimlessly and hoping luck will help us along—"

"I don't know about that, I'm pretty damn lucky."

"Will you keep your damn mouth SHUT please?"

Whist scoffed and crossed his arms, glowering at her.

"We need some money." She continued. "We need supplies and a settled base from which we can perhaps determine some point to our lives."

"Excuse me b—"

"LISTEN. At the very lest I need it, and you owe me, so, you're going to participate in this tournament. And you're going to win. Then, we'll either split the money and go our separate ways or we can work towards something together, I don't care either way so long as I get out of this continuous pointless-ness you call a life."

"So, I'm going to fight against those guys, most of who look like they would eat me for breakfast if they got the chance, just so you can get your way?"

"I don't care how you look at it, but you've got the basic idea."

"Maybe you never really stopped being princess Aurin…"

Whist was so shocked he didn't register that he had been slapped until the pain started tingling into his cheek. He looked up at Li'ain ready to yell or launch a return strike, but he paused when he saw the look of utter hurt and rage on her face, and noticed in a clammy fear the black and green aura limning her body. They stared at each other for a long moment, dead-locked in a staring contest until Blink yapped and bit Whist's hand gently, finally causing Whist to break eye contact and turn to the dog. There was a flash of something between them; that strange communication they seemed to have streaming between them constantly, and then Whist sighed.

"Fine. What exactly am I expected to do?"

Li'ain's aura flickered out, and her posture relaxed—though only slightly. "Here." She said handing him a paper. "This is our copy of the contract, all the rules and regulations, any questions?"

"Just one." He smirked up at her un-amused face. "I get to use my dog, right?"