As Tavros Nitram watches another burgundy-dripping chunk of his predecessor being hauled out of the Chamber of the Grand Highblood, it occurs to him once again that his life might, in fact, uh, suck.

He's usually a relatively upbeat sort of troll, especially considering he's a bronze blooded boy that has only known the harsh existence of slavery for his 8.3 sweeps of life, but sometimes reality comes along and smacks even the sunniest sort of sap in the shame globes.

This appears to be one of those times.

A piece of…person hits the floor with a sick sort of squelch, and Tavros winces, twisting one of the heavy bronze bands around his wrists in nervousness. He briefly wonders how exactly the poor sod came to be in so many messy bits. He's pretty sure that Subjugglators use, well, juggling implements, which he thought was limited to clubs, but, maybe, uh, not so much. Then he decides not to think about it anymore.

Instead he thinks of his last, well, not home exactly, but maybe place of residence? Either way, he'd liked it a lot better than he likes it here so far. Marquise Spinneret Mindfang had not been the gentlest mistress (and she certainly had not had the simplest name), but she had mostly left Tavros to the devices of the groundskeeper, Tinkerbull.

Tinkerbull had been the reason Tavros had been so happy at the Marquise's. The sprite had taken under his wing (no pun intended) and taught him all about the plants and animals on the property. He'd taught him to read and write too (a real feat considering his own, uh, hoofiness), and he'd constantly tell Tavros that he was worth something, which was a nice change from the usual 'rustblood' and 'shitblood' commentary that followed him everywhere else.

He misses Tinkerbull.

"Get moving, shitblood." A rough hand pushes him forward and Tavros stumbles briefly. He doesn't want to go in there. He really, really would prefer not to…

Another jab, harder than the last, and Tavros shuffles into the room. The heavy door slams shut behind him.

The room is bigger than the entire slaves' quarters back at the Marquise's house, and she wasn't bad off by any stretch of the imagination. There is a huge bed, an exotic luxury of the richer trolls imported from Gog knows where, with a royal purple canopy and sheets that could clothe a nation if that nation really dug purple.

There is a table in the corner with a carved wooden chair knocked on its side nearby, an unlit fireplace with a single plush armchair, a cavernous-looking closet that appears to contain many, many clown-related items (Tavros winces at the clubs), and another door that probably leads to a washroom of some sort.

It looks lonely.

It still smells like blood.

"So you're the new motherfucker. Got some big motherfucking shoes to fill."

Tavros yelps as a shadow detaches itself from a dark corner near the window and slinks closer. The stench of blood gets stronger. And Tavros meets the Grand Highblood, his new master, for the first time.

He's tall, really, really tall. Tavros doubts he'd even reach his shoulders if he was dumb enough to want to get close enough and measure. He can't be more than two or three sweeps older than Tavros, which makes their size difference all the more disheartening. He looks skinny, but also wiry, strong—well, he must be, to have done what he did to the, uh, other guy. His horns are elegantly twisted and crown a mop of the craziest curls that Tavros has ever seen. His eyes are even crazier than his hair and not nearly as benign, purple irises glinting with a sort of chaotic temper that is really very frightening, sort of. His face is covered in greasepaint, but there's also a new layer of red that speckles the smooth skin—blood, right. Um.

And he's smiling. At Tavros. Which is really scary.

"What's with the staring? Got something on my face?" His voice gets louder and deeper at the end, like a growl, and Tavros squeaks.

"Well, uh… uh, yes, actually?" He feels like this is a trick question, because the Highblood must have put on the face paint himself and so he must know about it. The blood, well…

It is a trick question.

Immediately there is a clawed hand gripping his floppy mohawk (the result of a haircut gone wrong and the lesson that drove home that hooved sprites should not handle sharp objects, and that Tavros had kept because he thought it was sort of cool) and yanking his head back, and he holds his breath as the Highblood leans in close.

"I think red suits me, motherfucker, don't you?" A claw from his other hand dances across the sensitive skin of Tavros's throat, pressing lightly enough not to break through but hard enough to cause pain. " I wonder how brown would look."

Tavros struggles not to swallow against the claw's pressure. It's hard.

"Motherfucker got a name?" The cold finger slides away, tapping at the cloth of his shoulder to give him a chance to answer. This is probably another trick question. Gamzee's eyes are impossible to read, ever-changing like roulette wheels.

"Tavros." He whispers. The Highblood's grin widens a manic amount, revealing way too many sharp teeth even by troll standards.

"Tav, huh? Motherfucking pleasure, Tav." Tavros's lips twitch in a weak attempt at a answering smile, because he doesn't want to make this guy mad(der), but he can't really say the sentiment is returned, in truth. "You all up and know some games, Tav?" He murmurs, still not removing either of his hands. Tavros blinks.


"See, that other rustblooded motherfucker? He didn't like games too much. Especially not the last one, ya dig?" Last one being… oh, Gog.

"Um, well, uh, how about, uhhh, charades?" It's one of Tavros's best, and it's also easy to rig it so a certain Highblood wins and doesn't want to kill the other players. Hopefully. Assuming the Highblood plays anything that doesn't involve sharp implements and poking other people with them.

"Mmmmm, motherfucking mystery to me. Never heard of it." He leans in so that Tavros can feel his cool breath across his face. It smells fruity and pleasant, a sharp contrast to the sour tang of blood in the air. "Care to share, motherfucker?"

Tavros blinks at him. He still looks like a blood-splattered psychopathic clown king, but he also does not appear to be actively killing Tavros. This is not an unpleasant development. He'd like to see it continue.

"Uh, well…"

Time flies when you're fighting for your life, even if said fighting consists of desperately trying to guess what a chaotically wriggling Highblood balancing on one foot while swiping his dark, pointed tongue from side to side is supposed to represent in a game of charades.

By the time there is a soft knock on the door, Tavros is unsure how long he has been here, but judging by the setting sun outside the window, it's been a while. He hasn't really noticed; he's been too immersed in their game. He can't say that it's fun, exactly, because his eyes keep straying to that dark maroon stain on the carpet across the room, but it's almost-fun. U-N, maybe, or F-U.

…U-N, on second thought.

He's so immersed, in fact, that he misses the first knock. He is chewing his lower lip, lost in thought. Finally he is forced to admit defeat.

"I'm, uh, stumped." The clown laughs, a loud and honking hoarse sort of sound that doesn't match his soft voice at all (except when he's yelling and it really, really does). He does this for a bit longer than totally necessary, and then relaxes onto both feet, still chuckling.

"Aw, man, that was an easy one." Oh? Tavros blinks, feeling a bit embarrassed that he couldn't even guess a simple one. "I was that other rustblooded motherfucker—after I cut off the first leg and before I'd finished strangling him. Get it?" He beams.


In the dead silence that follows, the knock comes again. This time they hear it. The Highblood's smile slips into a scowl.

"Kind of rude, motherfuckers, interrupting us like this." He stalks to the door and rips it open. "Better be good, motherfucker." Tavros is surprised the person on the other side doesn't drop dead from fright. Instead, a slim girl troll enters the room, bringing in a tray with a gold goblet balanced carefully on top. Amethysts glitter in the dying light of the sun.

The girl glances at Tavros as she enters, and he freezes, unsure whether waving or even smiling is inappropriate. She doesn't greet him either, so he thinks probably, maybe, yes.

So he remains standing, twiddling his thumbs and trying to look inconspicuous, as she sets the tray down on the table, bows to the Highblood, and slips back out, silent as a ghost the entire time. Her shackles shine dully when the lights hit them as she passes the threshold.

The Highblood slams the door after her, still frowning. His lavender eyes turn towards Tavros again, and the boy smiles, awkward, trying to regain the man's earlier good mood.

His master's lips turn upwards, which Tavros is, as of yet, reluctant to chalk up as a win.

"My wicked elixir, you feel?" He drawls, gesturing to the goblet and waving Tavros over. He himself collapses into the chair (up righted for use as a prop during their intense charades game) with a sort of boneless grace that Tavros envies. Well, he envies any sort of grace, really, but this one is particularly nice, he thinks. Hesitantly, he approaches, unwilling to refuse an order.

The older troll grins at him with sharp fangs peeking out, toasting Tavros with the goblet before taking a deep swallow. Tavros watches his throat work as he drinks, and feels his own swallow in response—it feels dry, suddenly. Dark eyes never leave his.

"Uh, what's in the, um, 'elixir'?" He asks, curious despite himself. Tinkerbull always said it was his worst flaw, but he was always snuffling fondly when he said it. The Highblood's smile, stained purple, widens.

"Excellent question, motherfucker." Which appears to not be an expletive with him, or at least not an unusual one meant to convey mental or emotional distress. Unless he was always in mental or emotional distress, which seemed… possible. Likely, even. "This, my bovine-based bud, is Faygo. Made of motherfucking miracles." He takes another swig.

Tavros has heard of the drink from when the Marquise and her daughter had come back pleasantly buzzed from the beverage from a party. It was a pretty pricy drink, Tavros thought. It made sense that it was the Highblood's favorite.

"Oh, uh, okay?" He tries, unsure of how to respond. The highblood honks again, and Tavros feels his lips twitching against a (possibly insubordinate) smile. That laugh makes the highblood almost impossible to be scared of. Almost.

"You ever partook?" The curly-haired troll asks. Tavros mutely shakes his head. The other troll tuts. "Now that is a motherfucking crime. Here, taste." He holds out the goblet that is enough to buy a village. Tavros flushes, shaking his head rapidly.

"N-no, I couldn't, uh, r-really."

The Highblood's eyes narrow and his smile sharpens. "You up and refusing an order, motherfucker?" Tavros gulps.

"N-no, no!" He takes the proffered goblet and takes a quick, tentative sip. His eyes widen as the fizzy, cool sweetness explodes on his tongue. He can't help a small sound of pleasure. "It's delicious!" He tells the highblood, whose smile has blunted again. The Grand nods sagely.

"I know it, motherfucker. Get a cup every night as my sweet miraculous lullaby." Tavros can see why. He tries to hand the cup back, but the Grand waves him off.

"Nah, gotta share the miracles, ya feel? You finish it on up, motherfucker."

If this is a trick, Tavros is willing to fall for it. He sips delicately at the sweet brew, unwilling to waste a single drop. He can't remember ever drinking anything so yummy before, and he doubts he'll be adding any better memories soon, so he wants to make it last. The highblood nods absently as he drinks, smile never waning.

Finally Tavros places the empty cup on the table with a little sigh.

"T-thank you, uh, very much. That was, very, ah,-" He's already said delicious, hasn't he? "Ah, wonderful and tasty." What a dork.

The Highblood doesn't seem to mind though, still smiling that serene smile that looks so different from that of before. Maybe he just has episodic tempers, and Tavros can learn to avoid them by never, ever pissing him off? Ever?

"All motherfucking done? Sweet. Time to hit the proverbial hay then, motherfucker." He glides over to his own mammoth bed and, without bothering to change, kicks off his rather large shoes and flops down—once again, somehow impossibly gracefully.

Tavros shuffles his feet awkwardly.

"Ah, should I g-go to the, uh, slaves' quarters n-now, then?"

The Highblood's head lifts to regard him with heavy lidded eyes.

"Not in a hurry to up and leave a motherfucker, are you?" He asked, soft but dangerous, like a knife covered in velvet. "I feel a little hurt."

Tavros shakes his head at an alarming rate. Although yes, he'd really like to leave, he's slightly less terrified than he was when he came in of the Highblood, and still just as scared of the green and blue blooded guards that he knows roam the halls and he also knows would cull him if given half a chance. The Highblood might, maybe, need to be given a whole one? In his current mood at least.

"N-no! It's just that there's, uh, not really anywhere here for me to, uh…sleep?"

The Highblood honks.

"Should have said so, motherfucker." Tavros sees him shift around, and then there is a dull thunk as an overstuffed pillow and a thick quilt hit the floor. The bed's other decoration seem to ooze to accommodate the gap, and Tavros can't even see the difference.

Uh. He looks at the pillow and quilt, right next to the bed of the Highblood. That looked a little awkward.

Awkward was better than dead. "Uh, thank you." He mumbles, shuffling forward timidly in case the highblood lashes out. He doesn't, and Tavros settles carefully on the floor beside him, pulling the quilt up and around his shoulders like a warm hug. He could use a hug, right now.

The pillow would feel like a kiss if those didn't make Tavros flustered, but they sort of do, so maybe it feels like, uh, a mini-hug for his face? …Um, still awkward.

"Chill time, Tav. Get some motherfucking Z's. Got a big day tomorrow." The Highblood murmurs. Tavros nods, even though the other troll can't see it. It seems rude not to.

"Um, y-yes, okay. Sweet, ah, dreams? Lord Grand Highblood, sir."

A hoarse exhalation of breath.

"I fuckingHATE THAT NAME." Uh oh.

"Um, okay, but well, it's uh… not? Your n-name, I mean. Right? Because there was a Grand Highblood before you and before him and, uh, I s-sort of thought it was, ah, a title? Rather than a name. B-but I don't actually k-know, uh, what else to call you?"

The longest silence in history, and Tavros wonders if the Subjugglator is readying his strife specibus to kill him for his insolence, and then…

"…Gamzee. Call me Gamzee, motherfucker." Despite his lingering fear, Tavros feels a small smile light up his face; the name suits him, he thinks. He hears the smile leaking into his voice as well, when he speaks. He's not sure if the other troll hearing it too would be a good thing or a bad thing.

"A-alright then. Sweet dreams, Gamzee."

Much later, when he toes the line between reality and dreams, he thinks he hears, softly, "Already are, motherfucker."

The next few weeks are not bad, exactly. Tavros hesitates to say that they are good, because he knows that will jinx him and because it is hard to fully relax around Gamzee while knowing that he could break Tavros's neck at any moment and no one would care.

But they're not bad.

"So I said fuck, that motherfucker is actually motherfucking fucking his motherfucking mother." Despite the inappropriateness of the anecdote, Tavros cannot smother a small snort of laughter at the absurdity of it. Even through the hoarse honking of Gamzee's own mirth, the troll notices and the paint around his eyes crinkles.

He puts another poached egg on Tavros's plate (his main breakfast food after it had been established that he was a vegetarian and Gamzee had listened rather than laugh at him), almost like a reward, and Tavros can almost say that he's happy.

"So what are we doing today, Gamzee?" The taller troll seems to like it when Tavros says his given name, so he tries to as often as possible. It's partly to keep the capricious troll's temper even, and partly because, well, he has a very nice smile that Tavros appreciates when he isn't busy being actively terrified of it.

This time, however, he sobers. Sober Gamzee is… not so fun, usually.

"Got a meeting, motherfucker. Not so miraculous. You'll have to chill solo today, Tavbro."

That's sort of exciting, actually, because he hasn't left this room in about two weeks, having meals and new clothes (still of poorer quality than Gamzee's, but a million times nicer than anything Tavros has ever worn, and somehow they got his size… exactly right. Even the inseam. Exactly.) brought to him, and it might be nice to go out and stretch his legs.

Still, Gamzee has been much kinder than he had to, and Tavros has grown to be almost not terrified in his presence. So he smiles sympathetically at the drooping troll instead of jumping for joy.

"Maybe it, uh, won't be so bad?" He tries. He's never really been to a meeting, unless attending his own slave auction counts, so he really can't offer any useful advice. "And we can chill after? Maybe?" This seems to perk Gamzee right up.

"You know it, motherfucker. I will bring all the chill." Tavros giggles despite himself. Every time he does this, he worries that he'll be seen as insolent and punished, but it hasn't happened yet. It doesn't this time, either, and Tavros relaxes. He never thought giggling would be something he'd have to worry about, considering he was sure he'd be dead by now. It's a surreal feeling.

"We'll be, like, ice cubes with all the chilliness." He ventures timidly, but with genuine good humor. Gamzee grins lazily at him.

"It'll be a motherfucking igloo up in here." Tavros nods agreeably, focusing on his eggs and not noticing when Gamzee's eyes narrow at a point near his mouth. "Got something there, Tav… Wait a motherfucking minute." Tavros freezes as a cool thumb brushes against the corner of his lips, the claw leaving a tickling line across the bow of his upper lip. He has to fight not to lick the sensation away as the hand recedes. Gamzee presents the smear of egg yolk to Tavros for inspection, and then licks his own finger clean with his dusky tongue.

Tavros is rather proud that he makes a little squeak, rather than screaming bloody murder and falling backwards out of his chair. It is a close call.

"T-t-thanks." He offers meekly. Gamzee gives his fanged smile back.

"Good enough breakfast for me." He declares, pushing back from the table. He'd had a small chair brought in for Tavros when they'd decided to play extreme sudden-death (the name still made Tavros nervous) musical chairs, and the boy rose from this as well. "Gotta get on that motherfucking powwow, ya know?"

Tavros nods, but his tummy feels a little squirmy as he considers that the only food that Gamzee touched was the egg on Tavros's lips. It's mostly a maternal sort of worry that he never could squelch—the highblood troll doesn't eat enough, and it shows in his thin frame—but there might be, maybe, some other things causing the squirmies. Tavros chooses to ignore these other things.

"Um, okay. Uh, have a good day?" The Highblood honks.

"Whoa, slow down there, motherfucker. Gotta drop you off with a safe sister first. Can't leave a rustblooded motherfucker like yourself all up and unprotected 'round here, ya feel? SOME TROLLS MIGHT GET SOME IDEAS. SOME MOTHERFUCKING UNMIRACULOUS IDEAS." Mixed with the usual surge of panic that Tavros gets whenever that grating edge enters the highblood's voice, there is a not-insubstantial measure of relief. To be honest, he has some inkling of what a few of those 'unmiraculous ideas' might be, and he's not so eager to experience them.

They're already dressed, or rather they seem to get undressed often anyway—into pajamas, into pajamas!—so when Gamzee strides out the door, Tavros scampers to catch up.

"I didn't know you, uh, had a sister." He wonders if she's as scary and nice. Gamzee chuckles.

"Nah, soul sister only. Like you're my Tavbro, right? We're all the motherfucking children of the great mirthful messiahs." There are a lot of stairs leading down from Gamzee's tower. Tavros imagines falling (being pushed) down them.

He lets Gamzee go first.

"Oh. That's… good." He hopes. He thinks about asking more, but he doesn't really want to risk a bad reaction on the stairs, so he bites his lip and stays silent.

Gamzee leaves Tavros with a very pretty troll with jade-colored eyes named Kanaya in the medical office. The lady is mild and polite, but once she discovers that Tavros knows, uh, a little bit about herb lore, she sets him to work with a firm hand. Tavros doesn't mind. The strong herbs tickle his nose and remind him of days in the forest with Tinkerbull.

He bites his lip and grinds harder into the pestle.

"So, Tavros, are you… well?" He blinks up at the troll lady where she is elegantly clipping an irate chili chokehold bush. The bush snaps angrily at the involuntary trim but Kanaya's slender fingers dance out of reach.

"Um, I'm okay, I suppose. Do I not, look, well?" He pokes self-consciously at his face. Gamzee hadn't said anything…

"Actually, you look rather healthy." Kanaya prods, as if this should enlighten Tavros. It does not. "Untouched, even."

"Oh, well, uh… thank you?" He can't really see that as a negative.

"I simply mean that you do not need to present a certain type of face to me in order to placate my perceived delicate nature. If you were in some way in need of assistance, I can think of no better place to request aid."

Tavros smiles uncertainly. "Wow, Miss Kanaya—" "Just Kanaya, please. There is no need for formalities." "K-Kanaya then. Um, that's really nice of you to offer."

The woman looks a curious mix of disappointed and triumphant. "So you are in need of medical council?" Tavros bites his lip, unsure, but then decides to go for it. Kanaya is asking after all.

"What would you advise for someone who doesn't really seem to have much of an appetite lately? Hypothetically, I mean. It's not that he doesn't like food, exactly, but that he sort of just… doesn't feel up to eating? Hypothetically?" Kanaya nods wisely.

"A very common problem among new arrivals." She muses. "Well, first and foremost I suppose I would ask what this someone usually eats when they do feel like eating." Tavros considers. What does he like most to eat when he's sick or sad?

"Um, mostly sweet things. Like fruit and pastries maybe? But those are hard to get, and so expensive." Kanaya eyes him silently for a moment, and her eyes soften as she smiles. She has a very pretty smile, Tavros thinks.

"Follow me please." Tavros does, as the tall, slender troll leads him through the castle. He's a little worried that Gamzee will get out of his meeting and find them gone, but he can't really refuse an important person like Kanaya, if he even wanted to. Which he doesn't because she is very nice, he thinks.

Soon there are mouthwatering scents that are wafting through the air, and Tavros is remembering that it's been several hours since he last ate. His stomach agrees… loudly. Kanaya chuckles and pushes open the door that leads to the wonderful aromas.

It is a very, very large kitchen. Tavros supposes that, being royalty, Gamzee can probably afford to have a kitchen the size of a medium village, and that he really can't fault the highblood when these smells are what are coming out.

Even better, attached to the scents is food like Tavros has never seen. There are mounds of cooked meat, delicate-looking jellies and pastes, fresh vegetables covered in fragrant sauces, and several large punch bowls filled to the brim with different colored liquid. Recognizing the purple one as Faygo, Tavros is willing to bet that the others contain new flavors.

It is amazing. It is fantastic. It makes Tavros miss the tasteless gruel that Tinkerbull used to make him and that, at the time, Tavros had not been overly enthusiastic about, despite his best efforts.

"Oooh, what a purrfectly adorable little fur-iend you've brought meow!" Tavros yelps as a warm body glomps onto his back, purring.

"Uhh, uhh…" He stutters, unsure of how to react. He hears Kanaya sigh. "Nepeta, please release young Tavros from your clingy claws."

"Awwwww, don't wanna! Hiss so cute!" Despite her words, the girl with the penchant for cat puns stepped back and allowed Tavros to actually see her.

She was much more adorable than he was, in Tavros's opinion. She had black tousled hair and fangs that stuck out just a little at two points, just like a cat's canines. Her green eyes, a lighter shade than Kanaya's, were sparkling and lively, just like her smile. She was petite—on second thought, Tavros thought, noticing that she was up to his eyeballs in height; she was a perfectly acceptable and respectable height.

She was also wearing a lime green apron that was printed with little paw prints and a happy waving kitty. Tavros had a sneaking feeling that the cat theme was not restricted to wordplay.

"He is also in need of sustenance, Nepeta, but finds himself lacking appetite. It is our job to tantalize his taste buds enough to entice him into breaking his fast."

Tavros flushed, embarrassed, and was about to sheepishly point out that he was not such a glutton that a few hours counted as a fast, when Nepeta cut in again.

"How pawful!" The tiny troll gasped. "Poor Tavvy!" She clung to him again. "Don't worry, Nepeta will save you!"

Kanaya smiled pleasantly at him over Nepeta's head. "Nepeta is our head cook. She's a witch in the kitchen." The younger girl preened. "However, I am afraid that in this case, a sweeter touch might be necessary. Is your companion Equius present?"

Tavros winced, expecting to be tackled by another hyperactive troll—maybe this time with a fetish for…ponies?—but after a moment, there appeared to be none forthcoming. Nepeta pouted.

"Those purrickly emeowssaries didn't want any dessert, the sourpusses! So Equius isn't here today." Kanaya nodded, frowning slightly.

"I apologize, Tavros. Often pastry is associated with more delicate dispositions, and also with a certain image that our visitors wish to eschew." A lowblood image, Tavros thinks darkly. He's certainly eaten it enough to know. It was soft and sweet and childish and fragile—all things that "true trolls" avoided.

But still…

"I can bake, if you wouldn't mind." Both Nepeta and Kanaya blink at him and he shuffled awkwardly, embarrassed. How rude! They've both been so nice to him and now he's giving orders like he's some sort of hotshot and—

"That would be supurrb!" Nepeta crows. Kanaya smiles softly at him.

"I had no idea that you were versed in the art of cooking as well as herb lore, Tavros." This is a natural assumption because usually slaves were trained to complete one kind of task, and were ignorant to all other craft knowledge. "That is very impressive." The boy blushes bronze self-consciously. Nepeta only worsens this by clamping on to him again.

"Oooh, whatcha going to make? Cake? Cookies? Meow-ffins?"

But Tavros isn't listening. Inspiration has already struck.

He stares at the Faygo and smiles

Two hours later, Tavros slips outside of the kitchen with Kanaya, waving goodbye to Nepeta and promising to visit her as soon as possible. Tavros clutches a box to his chest as he follows the older female through the halls.

A few times a guard sneers threateningly at Tavros, causing him to bite his lip and cling tighter to his box, but each time Kanaya intercepts the looks with an uncanny accuracy and a chilly look that promises pain (or at least purposefully subpar medical care) in the near future.

He huffs while braving the stairs, which are much more grueling going up than going down, but when he turns down the short hallway that leads to Gamzee's room, Kanaya stops him with a gentle touch.

Tavros turns back towards her curiously. She looks… conflicted.

"Tavros, you realize… you realize that there are certain misfortunes that should not befall anyone, but too often do." Like being sold into slavery, Tavros agrees with surprising bitterness. "However, that does not mean that these trials should be faced alone and unaided. It's alright to ask for help Tavros, you know." The troll blinks, bemused.

"But I thought that was what we just did…" He says hesitantly. "And you've been so helpful and kind. I really couldn't ask for anything else." Kanaya's jade eyes remain perturbed.

"I see. I hope that, within time, you will learn to request aid when it is necessary. You are not alone, Tavros."

"But you are late."