As Brynn entered the castle, she was greeted by a few people who were there already. Some of them were King Hagan's personal servants and guards, who already lived in the castle with their families; others were like her, who traveled to and from work. On occasion, King Hagan would be near the entrance of the castle early in the morning to check if there were any problems within in castle, or maybe to chat. He was usually seen with a thick book tucked under his arm, and it was a different one every time.

When Brynn was younger, before she joined the guards, she always thought King Hagan was one of "those" kings – the ones that always had that air of haughtiness around them and expected you to bow every time he crossed your path. He was actually very easygoing – unless of course, you had a book that he'd never seen before. Or if you challenged him with something he didn't know, and it turned out that he actually did.

She saw the king walk towards her. "Good morning, King Hagan," she said with a slight bow.

"Brynneth, how many times do I have to tell you how unnecessary that is?" he asked with a chuckle. "This is not my kingdom alone; this is the kingdom of every citizen's collaborative efforts," he said, walking away. He stopped and turned around. "Oh, and good morning to you too."

Even though King Hagan considered everyone who worked with him as acquaintances, she always had the habit of treating him with more respect than the other people she knew.

The Kougra made her way to what was called the mudroom. It was a place where everyone stored their belongings for the day, or for several days – they just had to make sure to clear their belongings on the last day of every month, because the maids would clean the room out to ensure that it never got too messy or dirty. She never really understood why it was called a mudroom anyway.

"So," Markos said casually, as Brynn unlocked her space. "I see you've been hanging out with that thief again."

She ignored him.

"Don't think I don't know."

'Shit,' she thought. 'Did he see me walking with Hanso last night?' She backtracked for a bit. 'Okay, I left the castle first… Was he following me? Oh no. He probably did. He saw me. He definitely saw me walking to his house with him and –'

"I saw you talking to him right outside the castle just now."

A wave of relief washed over her. "Oh."

"'Oh'? Seriously Brynn, you are a –"

Taric, an ice Cybunny, must've overheard their conversation, because he came right to Markos' side. "Something going on between you and that thief you're always catching?"

"No," Brynn said flatly.


Today, Brynn was assigned to the area around Brightvale Armoury and Fruits of Brightvale. Even though it was crowded and most of the crimes took place here, she liked it because that's where most of the street vendors were. Brynn's shift was nearly over now; she had broken up two fights earlier, and the rest of her day went fairly smooth. There was no sight of Hanso as well, which she was relieved about – not because she was worried, but because she didn't have to deal with him for today.

She went over to one of the vendors that had travelled all the way from Mystery Island, and asked for the orange marmalade. It was expensive here because Mystery Island was quite a distance to Brightvale – a ship ride, two trains, and a long walk to be precise – but she decided that it was worth it. She was about to pay the Bori behind the stand, when she saw a glimpse of blue fur, stuffing something in his pockets…

The familiar face noticed that she noticed him, proceeded to give her a cheesy smile, and broke out into a run.

She quickly put down the jar of orange preserves with a dull thud. "I'm sorry, sir – I'll be back!" She, too, broke out into a run. "Hanso!"

Hanso made a sharp turn, but she was already too familiar with his tactics to be tricked. Brynn pounced on his back, making both of them fall over.

"Did you run just to give me a hug, sweetheart?"

She got up, and sighed with exasperation. "Really, Hanso?"

He just smiled in response and extended his hand. She pulled him up.

"What'd you steal this time?"

"Marmalade."

At this point, their routine was like second nature. Brynn didn't even have to handcuff him anymore; he would willingly walk back to the castle with her to be put in the dungeon. She went back to the Bori first, and paid for the marmalade.

"It was for you, actually."

"Why?"

"I figured you liked it from this morning, so I thought I'd have some extra on hand whenever you come over."

She felt bad for what she was obligated to do, but chose to ignore all but the last part of his sentence. "I thought we made it clear that yesterday would be the first and last time I would come over."

There was total silence, except for the sound of their footsteps and the occasional wind blowing through the trees and grass.

"Why don't you just get a job, Hanso? Instead of stealing?"

"It's easier said than done, especially when you've been stealing for practically your whole life."

"So why did you choose to steal in the first place?"

"Because I had to. I didn't have parents to take care of me or give me food, like everyone else."

She didn't know what to say after that, so she kept her gaze at the cobblestone path as they walked towards the castle.


a/n: Thumbs up to you, if you know where I got Taric from ;)