The Path of Honour: An Interactive Story



  • edited May 2018

    Exactly, glad my reasoning makes sense, in addition to this just think about why Tobor is offering Mina to accompany him. Tobor asked her to help him, thereby putting her in more danger than he’d considered she would be in. Tobor has almost uprooted her life, he feels like it’s his duty to fix his wrong. But Tazhyn is pretty much fine, she’s not got anyone hunting her and she doesn’t need a way out. Mina does.

    With Tazhyn’s future parts, I’m not quite sure what exactly they’ll entail or how important they’ll be to the story as a whole, but I’ll do one or two just to show you guys what’s happening in the Merreq household and Meereen in general. After all, 6 slaves escaping is quite a big deal.

    But I’m really looking forward to the next part, I’ve decided it will be the final one in the chapter, finally bringing this long chapter to an end! It’ll start off from Tobor’s point of view, then switch back to Mina and then end I think. Don’t hold me to that though ;)

    Edit: I hope nobody is holding me to that, two hours later and I’ve already changed my mind. There will be a choice at the end of the next part, and then the chapter will end in a final part. Mybad.

    I’m looking forward to it so much that I’m probably going to start writing it tomorrow, just so it’s ready when I close the voting. Although I can’t say why I’m excited for risk of spoilers!

    Aye, this surely explains it. I wasn't so certain if she would want to leave, though I understand that she really doesn't, at least not at t

  • ["Yes"]

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part X Mina sighed and shook her head, throwing the stone wasn’t a clever move to make. Too risky. She p

  • Voting is closed!

    Mina will say [“Yes”]

    Like I said, not too much of a surprise for me with this choice. It was the obvious answer and one I’m happy with! I have almost finished the next part, just on the final bit of it. I want to have it done in the next few hours, but it may not be possible. It will be posted either tonight or tomorrow.

    Looking forward to it, it’s the penultimate part in the chapter and therefore the final and (in my opinion) hardest choice so far.

  • edited May 2018

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith
    Part XI

    Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head, slowly at first but then with more excitement. “I will, I will come with you.” She smiled, feeling the ache and the stress from the day leak out of her.

    Tobor joined her smiling and clapped a hand down on the table. “It’s settled then.” He grinned.

    “There is the small issue of my brother.” Mina said, lowering her tone slightly. “I must talk to him.” Tobor nodded sincerely, “And if he doesn’t agree with you?” He asked. Mina chewed her lip, “I hope it doesn’t come to that.” She said grimly.

    Tobor looked at the ground, not wanting to push the subject. Armond joined the conversation, “Not to be rude, but we really must be going. Will you join us now when we leave or wait for your brother?” He asked Mina.

    “I suppose I’d better stay.” Mina said. “I could leave a note, but he deserves as much for me to talk in person.” Tobor nodded, “Very well, Armond would you give Mina directions to the Second Son’s safehouse?”

    Armond smiled, “Of course, you have a quill and ink?” He asked. Mina raised an eyebrow, “You could just tell me, I know the city as well as anyone.” She boasted. Armond chuckled, “I don’t doubt it, but the closest I could tell you where the safehouse is an inn called the Tired Master. And even from there it’s a half hour walk.” He explained.

    Mina shrugged and went to look for the requested items, Armond turned to Tobor. “Are you sure about this? A girl will find no good place with a sellsword company, especially one as young as her.” He said in hushed tones.

    Tobor scoffed, “From what Mina’s told me and what you yourself have heard, she can handle herself. I trust her.” He said. Armond nodded raising his hands, “I meant no offense. You had just better be sure.”

    Mina returned with paper, ink and a short stubby quill. “Here you are.” She said. Armond began writing down instructions to where the rest of the sellswords were stationed but Mina cut him off, “I’m sorry, I don’t read the common tongue. Do you know Low Valyrian?” She asked.

    Armond looked blank, but Tobor took the quill from him. “Just say them aloud, I will write them down.” He said. Armond continued. “So, you know where the inn is? Turn right into a small passageway just before the Tired Master inn. Follow that passage for maybe five minutes. You know where the auction market is?” He asked and Mina nodded. “Hang a right onto the third street in the market and follow that until the Pyramid of House Galare.”

    These instructions went on and Tobor realised why he had had to have Armond with him to guide him, Mina knew the city and even she didn’t know where exactly the safehouse was. Tobor finished once Armond stop talking and gave the half-filled piece of paper to Mina.

    Mina thanked them both and looked over the paper, then placed it in the pocket of her cloak. “Thank you both. I will see you once I have taken care of the business with my brother.” Mina said.

    “Make sure you get to us before sunrise, we leave for the disputed lands at dawn.” Armond said. Mina nodded and stood up. “Tobor, there’s something I want to talk to you about first.” Mina said, looking pointedly at Armond, indicating she would rather it was in private.

    Tobor and Armond both stood as well and made ready to leave. Armond went to stand by the door and Mina took a breath. “I haven’t told you much about my brother, have I?” She asked him. Tobor shook his head, “Grezan? No, not really.”

    “Not Grezan. I was actually talking about Tavor.” Mina said quietly. Tobor’s expression softened. “Oh, right.” He said awkwardly. Mina sighed, “Tavor was my older brother. It was Tavor, Grezan and I, we were happy. My mother was a washerwoman and my father took up small jobs here and there, making money where he could. I realise now, that was likely crime.

    “My mother died when I was young, an illness. My father could barely afford to keep us fed, happy or safe so Tavor came up with a plan. He took to thievery, stealing bread where he could, clothes, money or anything he could get his hands on and get away with. When Grezan and I were old enough he taught us.

    “We were fine for a short time, eating enough. But it didn’t last. I don’t know if my father was weak, a coward or grieved but he took up gambling without us knowing. What little we made was lost to the fighting pits. One day he was certain of a victory and bet it all on a huge hulking monster of a fighter, who was to fight a small boy. The fighter tripped in the sand and the boy cut his throat.

    “My father couldn’t handle the realisation that he had spent all we made and we found him that night, swinging from the rafters.” Mina shuddered at the memory. Tobor put a hand on her shoulder, “You don’t have to tell me.” But Mina shook her head. “The debt collectors came regardless of my father’s passing, but we had no money. They broke Grezan’s nose and threatened to rape me until Tavor gave them what they wanted, he offered himself for them to sell if we couldn’t get the money within a week.

    “They left in agreement and Grezan and I both told Tavor he was crazy, we couldn’t get that much money in a week. But he told us we could, and he told us how. Tavor told us about the Pyramid vaults of the great houses of Meereen. He had contacts and favours so we made a plan to steal from the zo Loraq Pyramid.

    “When the night came, we were ready. Everything was meticulously planned, but we couldn’t account for bad luck. We slipped past guards, stayed out of sight, avoided wandering eyes or passed those we’d payed off. A off duty guard was in the wrong room at the wrong time, I didn’t check it and I walked in. He raised the alarm and just like that it was over.

    “We were lucky to escape with our lives and the small amount of money we had gained, Grezan was heavily wounded and bed-ridden for months. He was never the same after that, it near broke him. He drank and whored his way through life. But Tavor saw no option but to hold up his end of the bargain with the debt-collectors. He told us to keep the money we had stolen, as it wasn’t enough to pay them. He was sold into slavery, into the zo Merreq family.” Mina said with gritted teeth. Tobor scowled. “Reznar.” He said bitterly, the name leaving a bad taste in his mouth.

    “Reznar.” Mina agreed. “He worked Tavor hard. Too hard. My brother was miserable, we weren’t allowed to see him and he was over-worked. The short conversations we had with him were through the bars of a window. Then one day he didn’t come to his window. He wasn’t in his cell. I heard through other slaves that Tavor had, one day, stood up to the head of guards and been beaten. He never recovered and Tavor died in that pyramid. I wanted you to know that because now you know why I hate slavery and that bastard Reznar so much. I’m going to kill him one day.” Mina promised.

    Tobot didn’t know what to say. He was pleased that Mina had opened up, but what she’d told him was so sombre, what does one say to that?

    Tobor gave Mina a quick hug. “Thank you for telling me. I wish you luck luck with Grezan, I truly hope you can persuade him to join us.” He told her.

    Mina nodded, “As do I.” She agreed. There was a short silence, in which neither of them could quite think what to say.

    “There is one last thing, Tobor.” Mina said. Tobor raised an eyebrow, “Yes?” He asked. Mina turned around and knelt to the floor, pulling the rug back and fiddling with a floorboard. “I told you about the money we stole. There is still some of it left, I want you to take it back with you. I can’t carry all of it when I join you, and there’s- there is always a chance Grezan won’t come with me or forbid me from taking any money. So, I’m giving you my share.” She explained, pulling back a floorboard and revealing a dozen straw-sacks, although Tobor doubted they were full of straw.

    Mina hauled up several bags and dropped them to the floor, they clinked and clattered. “Mina, I can’t take your money.” Tobor said incredulously. Mina scoffed, “You aren’t taking it, you’re holding it temporarily for me. I’ll be having it back.” She laughed. Tobor grinned and grabbed the bags.

    “Well.” Tobor said. “See you around, Minera.”

    Mina scowled, “Don’t call me that.” She muttered. Tobor grinned, “Not a problem, Minera.” He jested. Mina jabbed him in the ribs and Tobor groaned as his body was thrown into a spasm, “Gods, sorry Mina.” He spluttered.

    “Apology accepted. And it’s Mina Aqris in any case, Tobor Hightower.” Mina lectured. “Wish I’d never told you my full first name.”

    Tobor smiled, “See you around, Minera Aqris.” He said, covering his sides with the bags for any potential attacks. Mina raised a hand warningly but then laughed, “Piss off now, your new friend is waiting.”

    Tobor smiled and then turned to leave. Mina watched as the door swung shut in front of Tobor Hightower.

    Mina sighed and dragged a chair towards the fire as she prepared for Grezan to return. Staring into the flames lapping at the logs, Mina let her eyes drift out of focus and relax. She realised just how tired she was as her eyelids drooped shut heavily. The heat of the fire seeped into her weary bones and before Mina knew it, she was asleep.

    Mina awoke with a start; the fire had burned low until it was a pit of orange embers glowing in the dark that had been left since the candles had burned out. That wasn’t what had woken her. There were a series of low voices outside the door. Mina’s drowsiness disappeared in an instant.

    There was an almighty clatter that ripped through the silence that preceded it as Mina’s door was kicked open, slamming into the wall. Through the dark of the night bled a handful of dark-clothed men.

    Mina sprang up and tried to swing a punch but it was futile, a man grabbed her wrist and wrapped it around her back in a painful hold. “Move and it breaks, girl.” He snarled, hot breath swimming into Mina’s ears and nostrils.

    Mina struggled weakly, but she didn’t fancy a broken arm. “Get the rope.” One of them said to another. Mina was bundled around roughly and forced down back onto the chair. One of the produced a length of rope and Mina’s arms were both bound tightly to the arms of her chair.

    Mina was breathing frantically, how could she have been so stupid to believe the hooded man would leave her alone? Why had she stayed here? Where was Grezan? Where was Tobor? So many questions leapt into her frightened mind.

    “Right girly.” One of the men said. “I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen now. We’re gonna ask some questions. If we like your answer, I smile. If we don’t like your answer. I don’t smile. And you don’t want to see what happens if I don’t smile.” He grinned sinisterly, leering at her with yellow teeth.

    Mina gritted her own teeth and drove her head forward, smashing into the man’s face. Unfortunately, he instinctively turned away and instead of colliding with his nose, Mina’s forehead smacked into his cheek. Mina hissed as a sharp stab of pain flashed in her head. The man stumbled back clutching his cheek.

    A couple of the man laughed. The man with the red, angry cheek did not. He stormed forwards and grabbed Mina’s shoulders. “You stupid bitch, do you not understand what I said?” He bellowed.

    Mina glared up at him defiantly. “Come on Ser.” One of the younger men said. “She’s just a little girl. Let’s just ask her the questions and go.” He suggested. Feeling his cheek, the man shook his head, “If you’re worried about this part I’d suggest you leave, son. It might get all kinds of messy here. I don’t care if she’s just a little girly.”

    Mina remained steadfast and silent, more confident on the exterior than how she felt inside. Her stomached leapt as she saw someone else walk through the doorway, not Grezan! She thought to herself. But the figure she saw was arguably worse.

    The man stood tall, in the dark Mina couldn’t make out what he wore, save for the large black cloak that flowed from his shoulders to the ground. A dark hood was draped over his head, casting a shadow on his face that masked his features. Mina’s heart beat quicker, it was the hooded man.

    “I wasn’t expecting you to come.” The man who Mina had headbutted said. The hooded man waved his comment away. “This is too vital to miss. We are the closest we’ve ever been to him.” He said, his voice sending chills up Mina’s spine.

    “You are the girl who has caused me so much trouble?” The hooded man asked. Mina scowled back at him, “Who are you?” She asked. The hooded man laughed, “No-one of consequence. I must say, I am impressed at your bravery or stupidity. After my spies found the body of the man who was supposed to kill you with his throat sliced and stomach cut open I was certain you would flee or wind up dead somewhere. But no, my spies told me you returned here and here you have stayed since then.” The hooded man mused.

    Mina almost gasped, “You knew where I was?” She asked incredulously, unable to hide her curiosity. The hooded man nodded below the hood, “The entire time. You proved to have more wits than the man who tried to kill you. I was indifferent of him.” He said calmly.

    Mina struggled slightly with her bindings, testing out their strength. There was a bit of give, but not enough to escape. It was irrelevant really, what would she do against a dozen men?

    “This night was different, however. You sought me out. You spied on me. You killed another. Then you left. I have your knife with me, if you’re interested.” He produced her long dagger from his cloak and twirled it in his fingers. When Mina remained quiet the hooded man continued, “I asked myself why? What would possess you to come back? So, I sent my spies out into the city, one right to your doorstep. He watched as a blonde boy and a man entered and he passed the word back to me.

    “The answer to why you spied on me presented itself. You were with the boy. You were helping him and he’d asked you to spy on me. How long you’d been helping, I don’t know, perhaps even before I ordered your death, but no matter. I know enough.” The hooded man held up his hand and made a circular motion with his finger and whistled to his men.

    Three men lifted up her chair and awkwardly moved her so she was facing away from the hooded man. “I’m feeling a little cold, aren’t you?” The hooded man asked ominously. The men Mina could see grinned, one of them grabbed some logs and twigs from the pile and threw them on the fire. In moments, the fire was reborn, crackling and hungrily licking at the wood.

    “Now, to the matter at hand. Where is the boy?” The hooded man asked. Mina’s heart lurched and she glanced down quickly at her pocket where the instructions to where Tobor was lay. If they searched her even for a second, they would find it.

    “I don’t know. He didn’t tell me.” Mina said quickly. Perhaps too quickly as the hooded man simply tutted. “You’ll have to do better than that.” He said slyly. Mina heard his fingers click and the man behind her pushed the chair closer to the fire. Mina felt the heat wash over her.

    Light had filled the room now, but Mina was stuck facing the wall and fireplace. The hooded man’s face would be in full view, if only she could see. Mina almost chuckled, even now, she was thinking about what Tobor had asked her to find out. Not that it would help much, Mina had never felt so hopeless.

    “Tell me, girl, where is Tobor? I know he would tell you, his only friend.” Mina was asked again. “I told you, I don’t know!” Mina said loudly. The hooded man sighed. “Move her closer.” He instructed. Mina was now sat directly in front of the fire; her legs were inches from the fireplace. The heat was uncomfortable and Mina was sweating, she could feel the beads glisten on her face.

    “Where is Tobor going? Will he stay in the city, or flee?” Mina heard the hooded man say. Mina gritted her teeth, “Go to hell.” She said grimly. Mina almost screamed as she sensed the chair fall forwards, tipping towards the fire. Her stomach felt like it had been left a foot behind her.

    Mina stared into the fire as the chair stopped still, holding her in place above the crackling flames. The bindings dug into her wrists, but Mina was grateful for them holding her in place. The heat was searing hot now, clawing at her exposed flesh. Mina wanted to scream and struggle but she felt far too precarious.

    “They say you burn seven-fold in hell, each one of the seven hells progressively hotter. I suppose if you want to, you could experience what a small piece of the pain would be like if you don’t answer my questions.” The hooded man told Mina. “Fine, alright I’ll answer.” Mina said, her voice almost cracking as she held back a sob.

    “What does Tobor know?” The hooded man asked. Mina frowned, “What do you mean? He knows you want to kill him. He knows you hide your face and he knows that you worked with Reznar to try to kill him.” She said desperately.

    The hooded man didn’t seem satisfied, “He didn’t mention anything else, anything he’d been told?” He asked pointedly. “What? I don’t know what you mean.” She said exasperatedly, increasingly worried at the greedy flames in front of her face. Mina whimpered as the chair was tilted further, closer and closer to the flames.

    “I’ll ask one last time, where is Tobor? Do you want your face to feel the pain of those burning logs?” He snarled.

    “I swear I don’t know. Please, please.” She begged, not knowing if it was sweat or tears on her cheeks. Mina prayed to gods she didn’t know the names of, she prayed to Tobor’s seven, she prayed to the gods of Old Ghis even though they hadn’t answered her before. Mina couldn’t think of many ways to die that were more painful than burning to death. The scar on her forearm tingled and burned like it had when she’d first been burned.

    Then suddenly the chair rocked back and Mina gasped a sigh of relief, choking back tears. Her face felt flushed from the heat and it still felt like the ghost of a burn, but Mina was alright.

    Confused as to why she had been put back down, Mina turned to look behind her. In the few short seconds she had, Mina saw the hooded man was faced away from her whispering in the ear of the man she had headbutted. He had taken his hood down and Mina could see his dark hair.

    “Face forward!” A different man shouted and slapped her on the side of the face. Mina snapped back around, cheek stinging. Mina looked down and in the side of her cloak, she saw the paper sticking out of her pocket. She swore silently, she was going to have to get rid of it. Mina couldn’t let them get their hands on it. It was only a matter of time before they found the directions.

    Mina wondered if she could hide it, perhaps stick it down her breeches, but there was no way she could do it subtly enough to escape their notice. There was no other place to hide it, not when Mina was strapped to a chair. Mina found her focus shifting to the fireplace. That could work, she thought.

    Mina glanced around, most of the men seemed to be facing their leader, a couple were facing her but they seemed unfocused. Mina wriggled her hands slightly to test out the weakness, one of the bindings seemed to have a little give.
    Mina was just about to commit to pulling her hand out of the bindings when there was a noise at the door. In a moment, the room froze. Mina immediately knew it wasn’t one of them, because of the look of surprise they were giving.

    The door opened and in stumbled a man. Mina’s heart sank like a stone.

    “Mina?” Came the voice of her brother. Like an arrow from the string, the room sprang into action. Grezan had seen his sister was tied up, so prepared for a fight. The hooded man sprang towards Grezan who, after hours at the tavern, was in no way ready. The hooded man sank his fist into Grezan’s stomach who doubled over. The hooded man then grasped Grezan by the back and drove a knee hard into the same spot he’d hit. Grezan fell to the floor, gasping for air.

    The hooded man grabbed Grezan by the hair and yanked him to his knees, holding Mina’s dagger to his throat, ready to drag it across.

    “Stop!” Mina screamed. The hooded man was stood side on from Mina, the right side of his face exposed by the light. In the back of Mina’s mind, she asked herself which side of the face Tobor branded but at the forefront she focussed on what she held in her hand.

    During the chaos that had ensued when Grezan entered, Mina had ripped her hand from the bindings that held it. This had burned the skin along the back of her hand, but Mina hadn’t felt the pain. Mina then took the directions to where Tobor was and she now held them above the flames ready to drop.

    “Stop!” Mina screamed. The hooded man’s face twisted into a grimace and he drew his hood back up. “What’s that?” He growled. Mina looked back at the fire, “These are the directions to where Tobor Hightower is. And you will leave my brother be, or I burn them.” She said.

    The hooded man pulled Grezan to his feet and, still holding the dagger to his throat, spoke. “A bold deal, I have a better one. Hand me that paper, and I won’t bathe the floor with your brother’s blood.”

    “You do that, or any one of your men make a move. Then I burn it. And I don’t know where these instructions lead, so if I burn this I burn all knowledge of where Tobor is.” Mina said, feeling more confident now she had a bargaining chip, albeit not the strongest.

    “Mina.” Grezan slurred. “What’ve you done this time?” He asked with the blade at his throat. Mina looked at him, his eyes were bloodshot and unfocused, he was drunk out of his mind. “I-I’m sorry Grezan.” Mina said softly, unsure what else to say.

    “Enough!” The hooded man shouted, his face half hidden behind Grezan’s head and his own hood. “Very well, I won’t harm a hair on your brother’s head. Give me the paper.” He ordered. Mina shook her head. “Let him go first.” She commanded, with considerably more authority then she felt she had.

    “M-Mina no, I need to stay with my little sister.” Grezan muttered feebly. Mina felt a tear roll down her cheek. She had done this. She would fix this. “No Grezan, this is my fault. You have to leave.” Mina said, trying to sound strong.

    The hooded man whirled Grezan around, who almost lost his footing, then marched him to the door. “Touching though this family exchange is, there is a deal to be made.” The hooded man told Grezan, “So, would you kindly fuck off. You useless drunk.” He snarled and dragged Grezan through the door.

    Mina’s hand was streaming with sweat, almost making it difficult to keep hold of the piece of paper held above the fire. The hooded man turned to Mina, hidden in the shadows. “Very well, I have let your brother go. Now, give me the paper.” He said with venom.

    One of his men had edged slightly closer and Mina tensed, but the man only held out his hand ready for Mina to hand him the directions. Mina gripped the paper harder, should she give it to them or just burn it?

    Tobor would be there by now, with all the others and readying to leave. Could he get out of there quick enough to escape the hooded man? Mina didn’t know, she wasn’t sure how close to dawn they were as it was still dark outside and Mina had fallen asleep earlier losing track of time.

    Would the hooded man kill her if she burned the paper? He’d mentioned being impressed with her, but Mina felt that would be irrelevant if she reneged on their deal. She also felt that the hooded man would likely kill her anyway even if she gave him the directions but it may buy her some time if she gave them to him.

    “Now girl. I need the paper!” The hooded man said sternly.

    Mina looked down at the paper.

    [Burn it] [Hand it Over]

  • edited May 2018

    I don't know!? I don't know what to choose! This isn't fair! I voted to leave to avoid this exact situation! I feel so damn bad for Mina. I hope this turns out okay.

    Alright I have a few lines of thought. One is that if she burns the note she has little to no hope of reuniting with Tobor. Another is that if she hands it over her purpose is done. She won't be useful and may just kill her. But I'm also thinking that there might be a chance that he can't read low valyrian. He's from Westeros isn't he? Admittedly I'm not very familiar with who speaks what. It's a gamble but I think there's a chance he can't read it and may have to rely on Mina to understand it, giving her a reason to be kept alive. I'm really uneasy about it but I'm gonna go with handing it over. Tobor will also be accompanied by sellswords and I don't think the Hooded man is aware of that, so hopefully they can handle him.

    I seriously think Mina is in great danger of dying. We got some backstory earlier and that's a HUGE red flag, especially considering the dangerous situation she's in. I'm really concerned for her safety unlike a couple parts ago with the 'to throw or not to throw' choice.

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • Alright, okay, I am officially terrified, because what is happening and why am I shaking and why is this so damn scary :scream:

    That... Is not what I expected in some way, but at the same time, it is exactly what I feared. The hooded man officially caught up to Mina and the stakes have never been higher. After that last scene with Tobor, I am now legitimately fearing for her life, perhaps not for the first time, but never as strongly as before. No doubt here, Mina is in terrible danger, because the hooded man is not the guy to play around. And I can already say, for just threatening her life like this, he has made it very personal and I am so going to make sure that he'll get exactly the fate he deserves. It won't be an easy death, that's for sure.

    But yeah, besides making me hate the hooded man with a vengeance, this part was extremely intense. I had a bad feeling during Mina's talk with Tobor, her revealing more about her backstory and them essentially becoming best friends. Death flags, death flags all around, just of the nasty kind, the ones that are just subtle enough to give me hope that she might still have a chance to get out of this. Can't even begin to describe how my stomach is feeling right now, that's how intense it has been. I both, anticipate and dread the next part, because there is so much that could happen, from Mina potentially escaping to the hooded man just simply killing her and informing Tobor about her fate. And no doubts which of these outcomes I have to try to achieve.

    And as horribly dangerous as he situation is, I do have a slight bit of hope remaining, coming from several factors. First, I actually liked that some of the hooded man's thugs don't seem to approve of harming her any further than necessary. The hooded man might be the lowest type of scum possible, but not all of his followers appear like mindless and faceless brutes now. The one who urged them not to harm her, I hate him slightly less than the others. He may live. And I hope that this means that acts of violence not serving the greater goal of finding Tobor isn't something the group usually does, else he'd probably be less uneasy at the thought of it or wouldn't bring up sparing her as a possible action. The hooded man himself said it might get messy, implying there is a way he'll refrain from doing so. That is where I place my strongest hopes in, that he'll let her live if she cooperates. Perhaps he will realize that she is a valuable hostage and he might decide to take her along regardless. Another slight hope I have is Grezan. Dude's just outside the door and though a stupid drunk and always source of trouble for Mina, he made it clear he cares for his sister and perhaps he'll try and save her, maybe buying her enough time to flee. All of this is a rather slim hope, because I feel like death and/or torture are a very real threat here, but the wicked thing is that the whole situation leaves just enough straws to grasp to keep me from losing hope entirely.

    One thing I have, unfortunately, lost hope in is Mina's stay with the sellswords though. Unless the hooded man takes her with him, as a hostage or something like that, I don't know if she'll make it to the tavern in time, because one way or the other, she will lose the directions to the tavern and I don't know how likely it is that she catches up to them at some other point, such as the city gates. That is a shame, because I was super excited for her stay with the sellswords and how she might get along with the rest of Team Tobor. Now, I'd be overjoyed if she just makes it out alive, her stay with the Second Sons seems like a very distant thing right now. Hell, even her chances of surviving this are small. I did try to avoid this by voting for her to leave and I feel like at least this has given her a bit of a chance to survive this, because by choosing to go with Tobor, she acquired a valuable piece of information that might be the only way to at least save her life, namely being Tobor's current whereabouts.

    [Hand it Over]

    So then, my friends, hear me out on this one, that might be important. I have no doubt that the hooded man will find out about Tobor's whereabouts regardless. Because there is one thing Mina has not thought about here and that is the fact that burning the paper won't destroy all the knowledge. Sure, it'll destroy the exact directions, but I have reason to believe this man won't need them. He only needs the location itself and this is something Mina knows. She knows Tobor is at the Tired Master. If she burns the paper, then the hooded man won't have a choice but to press this information out of her and I have reason to believe he is both, ruthless and determined enough to resort even to brutal torture to get it. Mina has a strong will, but I believe the hooded man is stronger and if he really makes it his goal to break her until she reveals this information, then he will succeed. And given that it is heavily implied he knows his way around Meereen, or has locals who help him, I have no doubt the name of the inn itself will be all he needs. I know, there is no guarantee he will spare her regardless, but there are a few straws that give me hope here. First of all, sure, Mina has been trouble for the hooded man and he is certainly the vengeful kind, but so far, he also mentioned being impressed with her and he hasn't ever expressed a desire to actually harm her. Even some of his men seemed uneasy at the thought of potentially torturing a teenage girl and that makes me believe that it wouldn't be out of character for him and them to just leave her if she keeps her end of the bargain. While I wouldn't exactly consider him honourable, all the violence he has done so far served the goal of finding Tobor. At this point, harming her for the sake of it won't bring him any closer to Tobor and in fact, it'll actually take some of his valuable time, which I believe he'd rather spend with actually getting to the inn. Alternatively, he might very well decide to take her along to blackmail Tobor into giving himself up and he should be smart enough to know that she'd make a better hostage if he won't harm her. Considering how determined he is to find Tobor, I could easily see him resorting to violence if she burns the paper, either to punish her or because he has literally no other way to find Tobor. If she hands it over though, she would keep her end of the bargain she struck with him about Grezan's life and I feel like her only hope is that the hooded man in return will spare her life and won't torment her any further. But Tobor's location, that'll be something he will find about regardless and actually, it might be for the best if he finds out right now, because the thing is, Tobor's chances of surviving an attempt on his life have never been better. He is literally surrounded by sellswords in that tavern, so I am not exactly concerned for him. I am, however, always concerned for Mina's well-being and I feel like this is what's truly at stake here. I don't want her to die or get horribly tortured or anything like that and I feel like to avoid this, the only way is not to anger the hooded man any further.

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • [Hand it over]

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • I would say I'm sorry, but writing this part was far too exciting for me. Seeing Mina at her most vulnerable was nothing if not interesting to write! This was a choice I have wanted to put in since Liquid first submitted Mina, even before I had thought of a villain!
    -Villain wants Tobor
    -Mina knows where he is
    -choice to tell him or not
    Of course, the details of this choice evolved over time to include the hooded man, Grezan etc.

    Yeah I have to admit, the choice to leave was a slight red herring so apologies for that. I didn't want to give the game away, so I went with writing in a choice that made sense to me, even though it would have little effect on the later story. That's not to say that the coming parts and chapters wont be affected at all by whether Mina said yes or no. It's just not the biggest choice.

    So, about your choice. Hmm, you say that if she hands it over her purpose is done? But, isn't that true for if she burnt it too? I wrote this choice as a kind of, do you risk pissing the hooded man off further based on the fact that he is done with Mina whatever she chooses.

    I think it's wise to assume that since he knows his way around Meereen, and he has contacts and spies (many of whom are just children) the hooded man can speak low valyrian. plus in his whole group, there's a large chance someone knows some low valyrian, after all it is just directions

    While the hooded man is not aware that Tobor is with sellswords, we don't know the full extent of how many people the hooded man has. he had enough to launch a small attack in the fighting pit. How many are left? How many did he have to begin with? I'm not quite ready to tell you all that, but it may well be enough to beat the 20 or so sellswords/slaves Tobor is with. Also, never underestimate the element of surprise ;)

    regardless, I'm glad this part is getting the emotional response I expected :D

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    I don't know!? I don't know what to choose! This isn't fair! I voted to leave to avoid this exact situation! I feel so damn bad for Mina. I

  • Why you do dis , Bittersteel? Now I want to change my choice. ARGH! I don't want to lose Mina. :'( This may honestly be the most stressed I've been by a choice for a while.

    If she seems fucked no matter what I'm really leaning towards burning it now. Like looking at it as character building and choosing to be loyal rather than risking Tobor's safety to save herself. I'm so uncertain... This is so stressful!

    I would say I'm sorry, but writing this part was far too exciting for me. Seeing Mina at her most vulnerable was nothing if not interesting

  • Wow, I'm sure this response is as long as some of the parts I've written.. I love it! :D

    I was going for exactly these sorts of emotions, I wanted it to feel raw and real and scary. how would you feel dangled over a fire? Ahh that's the hooded man's first mistake, he's offended Liquid and now Liquid will make it personal, no-one threatens Mina and gets away with it! ;)

    I won't comment on the subject of death flags and what they mean, you'll have to wait for that...

    On the subject of the hooded man's men (that's a mouthful), yeah they aren't all monsters. I would argue that the hooded man himself isn't a monster, just a man with a singular task. In the world of Westeros, sometimes you cant afford to take risks and that's just what the hooded man is doing. Clearly, he isn't a nice man, but to survive in GoT you can't be nice. A lot of his men are just people who are with him for his task, I cant say more for risk of spoilers.

    Yes that's exactly what I was going for, a situation not so hopeful that people feel that Mina will be fine so i'll just choose the choice that is best for Tobor. but then I didn't want a situation where Mina is just so utterly hopeless that whats the point? if that makes sense. I wanted a choice that Mina could put Tobor's safety first, or her own first. Now, I know it isn't as clear cut as that, Tobor is in an arguably better position with sellswords etc and Mina kinda isn't. But it is essentially who's safety, with a few different factors at play.

    Now onto your choice, I do think you are slightly overestimating the usefulness of Mina's knowledge of the location. When you think about it, what Mina knows about the location of the house is basically "Go to the inn, then find that one house, near that one square", even the people who built Meereen couldn't find it based on what Mina can remember. So the paper is the only way to find Tobor. However, I agree that the hooded man wouldn't believe that she doesn't know, and he could quite possibly torture her in any case to find out what she knows. also, remember what Armond said about the location. It's a half hour walk from the inn itself, trying to find a specific house in a half an hour radius of one inn is not a simple task. So I don't think that that information has the importance you place on it.

    I do however, agree with your other points. It is a risk to anger the hooded man, Tobor is in a secure place even if the hooded man finds him. In any case, I cant wait for the next part and the end of the chapter!

    Alright, okay, I am officially terrified, because what is happening and why am I shaking and why is this so damn scary That... Is not wh

  • Haha I'd just go with your gut feeling or reaction. A lot of the points you made in your first post are valid, hooded man may well still take Mina with him regardless of if he understands the writing or not.

    I wouldn't say shes fucked no matter what, and I hope that wasn't what came across in my reply to you. I just wanted to get across that as far as Mina is concerned to the hooded man, he needs that paper. if she hands it over, then the hooded man has the paper. if she burns it, the hooded man can no longer get the paper. Regardless of her choice, Mina loses her bargaining chip. The choice then boils down to, give up the location and try and save yourself and Grezan, or get rid of the location and risk the hooded man's anger.

    I don't want to say I'm glad that you're stressed, but I am pleased that this choice is causing so much doubt and should-I-do-this or should-I-do-that. ;)

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Why you do dis , Bittersteel? Now I want to change my choice. ARGH! I don't want to lose Mina. This may honestly be the most stressed I've

  • Oh don't worry. I'd be loving this if I was in your position.

    Haha I'd just go with your gut feeling or reaction. A lot of the points you made in your first post are valid, hooded man may well still tak

  • If it's okay with you, do you mind if I change my choice? perfectly fine if changing choices is a big no no, for you. Mainly because I always prefer to make choices emotionally instead of logically. Do you know what I mean? Like thinking in a "What kind of character I want this person to be?" rather than a "What's the more beneficial choice?" Hope that makes sense, but like I said, perfectly fine if you'd prefer no changing.

  • Yeah I’m ok with that, I understand what you mean. Just know that if I count the votes wrong at the end, I’m blaming you ;)

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    If it's okay with you, do you mind if I change my choice? perfectly fine if changing choices is a big no no, for you. Mainly because I alway

  • On the subject of the hooded man's men (that's a mouthful), yeah they aren't all monsters. I would argue that the hooded man himself isn't a monster, just a man with a singular task. In the world of Westeros, sometimes you cant afford to take risks and that's just what the hooded man is doing. Clearly, he isn't a nice man, but to survive in GoT you can't be nice. A lot of his men are just people who are with him for his task, I cant say more for risk of spoilers.

    See, that is what's giving me a bit of hope here. The only glimpse we previously had of the hooded man's gang was that one guy whom Mina had to kill way back, he's the only one who has gotten lines so far. This here paints a picture that is more evenly spread out in terms of morality, there's scum, but there also seem to be people who are more professionals than actual murderers. And the hooded man, yes, he is a man with a singular task, so this is what I'm putting my hopes in, that he sees harming Mina as something that won't benefit his goal. I think that is the only way she can get out of here alive. She's completely at his mercy, which means that she has to play by his rules if she wants to get out of there.

    Yes that's exactly what I was going for, a situation not so hopeful that people feel that Mina will be fine so i'll just choose the choice that is best for Tobor. but then I didn't want a situation where Mina is just so utterly hopeless that whats the point? if that makes sense. I wanted a choice that Mina could put Tobor's safety first, or her own first. Now, I know it isn't as clear cut as that, Tobor is in an arguably better position with sellswords etc and Mina kinda isn't. But it is essentially who's safety, with a few different factors at play.

    With that, I have to say, I think Tobor is indeed in the better position. Mina is literally dangling over a firepit, there is the very real threat of torture and death, whereas Tobor is currently chilling with his new sellsword friends. He is not in this particular danger yet, so I'd say that objectively he is safer than her in this very moment. I'd rather focus on saving him a bit later, once Mina's safety has been secured.

    Now onto your choice, I do think you are slightly overestimating the usefulness of Mina's knowledge of the location. When you think about it, what Mina knows about the location of the house is basically "Go to the inn, then find that one house, near that one square", even the people who built Meereen couldn't find it based on what Mina can remember. So the paper is the only way to find Tobor. However, I agree that the hooded man wouldn't believe that she doesn't know, and he could quite possibly torture her in any case to find out what she knows. also, remember what Armond said about the location. It's a half hour walk from the inn itself, trying to find a specific house in a half an hour radius of one inn is not a simple task. So I don't think that that information has the importance you place on it.

    Gotta admit, I got this one wrong, I thought that she at least has a general idea on where to find them. However, the hooded man doesn't know that it's that hard to find and he has no reason to believe her if she claims to not know, so I could see it as possible that he'll just end up killing her in frustration after wasting time torturing her and realizing that she indeed cannot help him. If she just complies and tells him, she'll obviously feel super guilty, but I'd rather have her with an unfounded feeling of guilt than having her dead.

    Wow, I'm sure this response is as long as some of the parts I've written.. I love it! I was going for exactly these sorts of emotions, I

  • I'll edit my comment to unbold my original choice. :p

    Yeah I’m ok with that, I understand what you mean. Just know that if I count the votes wrong at the end, I’m blaming you

  • edited May 2018

    Though even if we take a second look at it from a logical standpoint, wouldn't it be better to hand over the paper as well? I don't think this right here is a character building choice, considering she is not doomed yet. You seem to assume that both choices will result in the same fate for her though. If she'd be doomed either way, I myself would probably prefer her to go out with a final fuck you towards the hooded man, as much as I don't want her to go out at all. There is just enough straws to grasp to have a legit hope left. But I really doubt that both choices lead to an equally gruesome fate, means there might still be hope and it might be influenced by our choice here (or potential outside factors such as the hooded man's followers developing a conscience, Grezan coming to the rescue or Mina managing to free herself with plain resourcefulness). As such, I feel like the choice should narrow down to trying and getting her out of there alive. Regardless of wether or not handing it over actually helps with accomplishing that goal, pissing the hooded man off by burning the paper certainly won't help. I can't see any way burning the paper could help her in this situation. If she'll manage to escape some other way, she'll likely have an easier time doing it if the hooded man isn't pissed at her. But there is really no saying what he is going to do if Mina burns the paper, either to punish her or to try and press the information out of her, potentially assuming that she knows more than she actually does.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    If it's okay with you, do you mind if I change my choice? perfectly fine if changing choices is a big no no, for you. Mainly because I alway

  • No, it's not like that. It's just that the way I see a character or want them to be often factors into my choices. I'm sure that one choice may be less dangerous than the other, but I'm now thinking along the lines of "This is the kind of person I want Mina to be" You may have noticed how frustrated I get with a lot of readers on Forum of Thrones for thinking so logically.

    Though even if we take a second look at it from a logical standpoint, wouldn't it be better to hand over the paper as well? I don't think th

  • [Burn it]

  • edited May 2018

    To be honest, I myself am often surprised the FoT readers manage to be that damn logical pretty much all the time. Perhaps I should try and make choices like this right here more often XD

    But yeah, about matters at hand, you previously said you don't want Mina to die. What happened to that? I know you don't want her to die, but now it seems like it doesn't matter to you which of the two options is the more dangerous one as long as it means she stays true to her morals to the bitter end. While giving up Tobor's location will obviously cause her to feel guilty, I don't think she'll be a different person for this. In fact, I think burning the paper will have far more terrifying potential of changing her from a living person to a dead one. You can't deny that in this particular situation, the worst she can do for herself is pissing off the man who has all but threatened to torture the information out of her. I don't think at this point that we can bring her through this alive if we pick the choice to burn the paper, as this will mean the hooded man has no reason not to give her the absolute worst he is capable of. So, I feel like you have to decide, would you rather have her die a horrible death (and potentially still having to give up Tobor, because I bet the hooded man has ways to break her), or would you have her alive and well, capable to live, fight, make amends and end up as a better person another day. To me, her life is the absolute highest stake in this choice, so much more than in the last choice about throwing the stone. As such, I have a really hard time understanding what made you change your mind and in favour of burning that paper regardless of the very real risk it would pose. If you could do me a favour and explain it, that'd be highly welcome. I'm just legitimately fearing that burning the paper means burning the last bit of hope she has to survive this encounter.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    No, it's not like that. It's just that the way I see a character or want them to be often factors into my choices. I'm sure that one choice

  • I'm still terrified for her, don't get me wrong. I love Mina and I'll be crushed if she actually dies. But my mindset is that I can't honestly see which choice will get her out of this safely. On one hand I see her giving up the note as her giving up the only leverage she has and that there will be no reason to keep her alive after that. But there's also a lot of danger in burning it. It's also important to remember that the Hooded man ordered her death a while ago. He already wants her dead. So I then went by my thinking that Mina wouldn't risk Tobor's safety for her own sake. Of course that's just my personal opinion and persception of Mina, not a fact. It doesn't make anyone else's view on her wrong.

    This reminds me a lot of a specific part in Forum of Thrones (SPOILERS FOR FORUM OF THRONES) This was ages ago but it was when a character was captured and being tortured. He was in very real danger but most readers voted to risk his well being in favor of protecting his friends. That's just an example though, not trying to influence you, just trying to explain my mindset.

    To be honest, I myself am often surprised the FoT readers manage to be that damn logical pretty much all the time. Perhaps I should try and

  • [Hand it over]

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • Well, thanks for explaining it and though I still disagree, you actually managed to weaken my resolve about handing it over being the better choice. I still think so, but I start second guessing my choice. In this particular scenario, I believe at least if we ignore the consequences for Tobor, there will be one choice more or less good for Mina and one choice that'll end badly. Admittedly, that FoT example is actually a good one. Keep in mind though, the character in question got heavily tortured and essentially crippled for his defiance. No doubt the hooded man is ready to go to the same length to get what he wants and it is pretty much my main goal to prevent him from shoving Mina head first into that fire pit until she breaks and tells him everything. Given that fire is quite a fear of hers, I doubt it'll take long, but the consequences for her could be devastating. And if she burns the note, she would pretty much give up on her only leverage as well. That's like shooting her only hostage, there would be no reason for the hooded man to spare her any torment. The best she can hope for in my opinion is his striking a deal and counting on his continuing indifference, because it'll mean he won't torture her and maybe even pick up on the suggestion of his oddly likeable henchman from earlier in the part and just decides to let her go, given how she can't possibly warn Tobor in time. I just don't think he'll waste time on her if Tobor is about to escape his clutches, not unless we give him a reason to.

    Though I actually just had a rather odd idea... what if the hooded man decides to actually take her as his hostage? As Tobor's friend, she is of great value to him and that bastard always struck me as the sort to make use of every asset he can get. Dragging Mina with him and after Tobor through half of Essos, fulfilling her desire to leave Meereen in the worst way possible and giving us a PoV who shows more of the hooded man and his group (I am strangely curious about that single guy who seemed to not be a complete monster). No doubt this choice right here is major, but I now start to think that besides deciding about life or death or maybe torture, we also decide a bit about her future whereabouts. I mean, maybe I am reading too much into it, but it has been kinda implied that Tazhyn will be the only Meereen PoV for the foreseeable future, that Mina won't manage to go with Tobor and that there is a chance for her to survive, so her becoming the hooded man's hostage, his leverage in luring Tobor out of hiding once he leaves Slaver's Bay, that sounds like something that's on the table now.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    I'm still terrified for her, don't get me wrong. I love Mina and I'll be crushed if she actually dies. But my mindset is that I can't honest

  • [Burn it]

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • edited May 2018

    O my goodness, this was quite the crazy part. Both options are not ideal at all. Both Liquid and Agent have made some very good points. Which to choose... Which to choose... I guess, after some internal deliberation, I'll go with [Hand it Over]. Liquid made a good point in saying that her burning her only leverage would be the most likely choice to get her killed. On one hand, if she does hand over the note, there is a possibility she can convince the hooded man to either let her go or take her as a hostage to Tobor. She knows he is protected by sell swords, but the hooded man does not. He won't be expecting as big a struggle in killing him. Perhaps, Tobor could free her if they do engage in combat. On the other hand, if he does agree to free her, she could follow the hooded man and his group from a distance and then warn Tobor and his group, once their close to them. However, her giving the hooded man the note may end getting one of or both my characters killed. Now I'm thinking, about changing my vote. I might do that later, I'm not sure.

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XI Mina could see Tobor staring at her expectantly, he wanted her to say yes. Mina nodded her head,

  • Voting is closed!

    After perhaps the hardest choice so far, the decision has been made that Mina will [Hand it Over]

    I genuinely don’t know which one I would have picked were I to make the choice. The way I see it, if I were in Mina’s shoes, do I put my own safety first and give up where Tobor is, perhaps putting him in danger. Or do I stay loyal to Tobor and bite the bullet, throwing the hooded man’s chance to find Tobor on the fire.

    I’d like to think I’d act selflessly, but there’s always self-preservation. In any case, handing over the paper has a lot of potential to cause trouble for Tobor. The next part should come out tomorrow or the day after, as it’s only a short one to (finally, and I know I say this all the time) actually end the chapter this time. I’m sure you’re all dying to know what the consequences of this choice will be so I’m going to get it out as soon as I can.

  • I'm scared.

    Voting is closed! After perhaps the hardest choice so far, the decision has been made that Mina will [Hand it Over] I genuinely don’t

  • edited May 2018

    Exclusive gif of me waiting for the next part:

    Seriously though, you weren't kidding with that. I have made tons of choices in tons of stories, so many that I could never recall all of them, but off the top of my head, this one's easily a contender for the hardest ever, albeit perhaps not for the same reason as most others. See, I must admit, I legitimately do not consider Tobor to be in danger here. He is surrounded by sellswords, he is a skilled fighter and he won't stay in Meereen for much longer. Even if the hooded man catches up to him, I doubt he can gather enough men to take the sellswords in an open fight, at least that quickly. Always could be, but with the information we have, I consider it unlikely. So, naturally I tried my best to get Mina through this, by picking the choice I consider best for her. Her life is my priority goal, after all. While Tobor being in danger is a purely hypothetical scenario at this point, her being in immediate and severe danger is a fact, so I suppose it's only natural that I simply must try and pick the choice that is spelling the least bad for her. My own conflict here came from the fact that I have started to doubt that this is the better choice for Mina. Not kidding, I literally overthought my decision a dozen times these past couple of days, even genuinely considering to change my vote, because I started to grow so uncertain about wether or not I chose correctly for Mina. I was very confident when I made the choice, but I have this habit of doubting my decisions even when there's a fair chance they are the better ones. And truth be told, after thinking about this for a while, I can wholeheartedly say that Agent is right when he says that we cannot be certain which will lead for the better outcome, for Tobor and for Mina. It just seems logical to me that pissing the hooded man off will lead to pain and death for her, means not doing that sounds kinda like the only chance she has, even if she is likely going to feel horrible for having to sell out her best friend. But there is just enough potential for this to go wrong regardless. Agh, see what I'm doing, I'm starting to overthink that whole mess again, so I'm going to stop it right here before I regret not changing my vote :D Kudos to you for making this absolutely brutal choice. And now, the next part cannot come soon enough, because I am legitimately terrified :fearful:

    Voting is closed! After perhaps the hardest choice so far, the decision has been made that Mina will [Hand it Over] I genuinely don’t

  • Exclusive gif of me writing the previous part and dreaming up that horrible choice :D

    I can tell that you’ve been overthinking it! And I’m certainly glad that I’ve managed to get a choice that has provoked so much thought and discussion. I’m almost tempted to do a what-if storyline for both options, since both of them have really interesting potential storylines.

    Exclusive gif of me waiting for the next part: Seriously though, you weren't kidding with that. I have made tons of choices in tons o

  • Well, wouldn't you only need to do a what if storyline for the choice that lost?

    Exclusive gif of me writing the previous part and dreaming up that horrible choice I can tell that you’ve been overthinking it! And I’m

  • Ah yeah, that’s what I meant.

    Well, wouldn't you only need to do a what if storyline for the choice that lost?

  • Crucial Fights and Tested Faith
    Part XII

    Trembling, Mina held out the scrap of paper and the hooded man snapped his fingers. The man closest to Mina grasped the directions and Mina let go. Devoid of her bargaining chip, Mina felt vulnerable. Had it been worth it? To betray Tobor?

    Mina told herself it didn’t matter, Tobor would be gone by then and he was with sellswords. They could protect him. But it didn’t fill the pit of guilt in her stomach. Mina consoled herself in the fact that Grezan had gotten away and that she herself was alive, which she almost certainly wouldn’t be had she burned the paper.

    The hooded man, who had drawn his hood again, scanned the words written down and licked his lips. “We’ve got a ways to go boys, best move soon if we want to catch the little bastard.” He said. “When did he tell you to meet him?” He asked Mina.

    “Midday.” Mina lied, hoping that at the very least, she could make the hooded man miss Tobor seeing as the sellswords were leaving at dawn. The hooded man made a face, “Too late, we don’t have time to waste.” He turned to his men. “We leave now, catch them before sunrise if we hurry and we’ve got directions now!”

    Mina almost smiled to herself as she heard him say that. She remembered the last line on the paper. ‘Follow the path into the market square, take the third passage from the left and go into the second house on the left.’ She also remembered how she’d licked her finger and smudged the word ‘second’ out on the still drying ink. One last fuck you to the hooded man.

    As the hooded man turned to the door, it slammed open and hit him full-on in the face. He stumbled back clutching his forehead, Mina’s dagger clattered to the floor. In burst Grezan, with a look of blind fury on his face. Mina’s smile faded like a mist.

    With a primal howl he leapt at the hooded man and launched a flurry of blows at him. Dazed, the hooded man could do little more than cover his head with his arms as Grezan continued his assault.

    After their brief lapse, the other men in the room snapped to attention. They swarmed Grezan and dragged him back, throwing him across the room and into the table where he slammed into the heavy-set wood and crumpled to the floor.

    Grezan was dazed, still drunk and when he tried to stand up, found he couldn’t. Placing a shaky hand to his forehead Grezan took the hand away and was surprised when it came away bloody. Mina still had one hand bound to the chair and tried to drag it towards her brother. “Grezan, no!” She cried. “Why did you come back, you arse, why did you come back?” She said angrily.

    A man caught her and shoved her back into the chair where she sat, fixated on the scene before her. The hooded man had been helped to his feet, his hood had fallen down, face bare to the light. But Mina was staring at her helpless brother.

    A man with a bloody, streaming nose came stumbling through the door. “I’m sorry, Ser, I was at the door when he came at me with a brick. He smashed me in my-” But he was interrupted when the hooded man, with a look of pure rage, grabbed him by the throat and threw him back against the wall. A desperate apology wasn’t enough to stop the hooded man from grasping the poor soul by the face and slamming the back of his head into the wall again.

    As the unconscious body of the man slid down the wall, leaving a bloody trail, Mina looked on in terror at her brother. “Mina, I-I couldn’t leave you.” Grezan said blankly. “I started to leave, but you’re my sister.”

    Mina felt a tear leave her eye, “Grezan.” She whispered.

    The hooded man stepped behind her brother, Mina stared Grezan in his eye. Mina hadn’t seen him cry since Tavor had died, but now she saw a tear fall from his cheek. The hooded man reached around Grezan’s neck. Mina frowned as she realised she couldn’t see properly, everything was blurry.

    As Mina wiped her eyes, she found the back of her hand wet, looking up she saw that the hooded man was holding her dagger. “You said you wouldn’t.” Mina whispered to the hooded man as she looked into her brother’s eyes.

    Mina saw a flash of steel, then a flash of red. Mina looked up dumbly. That’s what his face looks like without the hood then, she thought to herself.

    Tobor knocked quietly on the door. “Come.” Came the stern reply. Tobor nudged the door open and stepped through. Sibas looked him up and down unimpressed. “You.” He grunted. Tobor smiled meekly, “I wanted to apologise.” Sibas raised an eyebrow, he was sat on a lumpy bed turning a coin over in his fingers.

    “That’s nice.” Sibas said grumpily. Tobor bit back a retort, Sibas was just upset. “Listen, I overreacted earlier. I said some things I didn’t necessarily mean. I knew you were right, it was a risk to bargain with Ben and one that I perhaps shouldn’t have taken. It’s just that, I have got this far only by taking risks. I don’t think I’d be alive if I hadn’t.” Tobor said.

    Sibas snorted, “You aren’t great at this apologising shite, are you? You’re just saying what you said earlier instead of shouting it.” He said. Tobor sighed, this wasn’t going the way he planned.

    “But I suppose you’re right, I did overreact too.” Sibas said. “I get what you mean about risks though, I do. The last time I took a risk, people close to me got hurt.” He said harshly, clearly not willing to elaborate.

    “I just hope you know I wasn’t doing it to put anyone in danger. I wasn’t trying to be selfish either.” Tobor said. Sibas nodded and stood up, pocketing the coin. “I can appreciate that.” He said tersely.

    Tobor held out his hand and Sibas shook it. “Just next time, don’t presume to be the leader of me and be giving me orders. You aren’t my commander yet!” Sibas said in a light tone, but Tobor could tell he was being deadly serious.

    Sibas noticed what Tobor was holding in his hand, “What’s in the bag?” He asked. Tobor looked down and realised he was still carrying the straw bag Mina had given him. As an answer, Tobor gave it a shake. The clink of metal echoed out.

    “You steal it?” Sibas asked and took the bag, weighing it in his hands. Tobor shook his head, “Met an old friend, she gave me some silvers.” He explained. Sibas chuckled, “You going around Meereen in these late hours offering young girls your favour now?”

    Tobor smirked. Sibas whistled, “This is a heavy stack, how much?” He asked. Tobor shrugged, “I don’t know, enough to get all of us some decent weapons or armour.” He said hopefully.

    Sibas grinned, but Tobor held up a hand. “You hear that?” He asked. Sibas listened, screwing up his face in concentration. There was a faint sound coming from downstairs. Tobor put a finger to his lips and beckoned with his hand. Sibas picked up a brace of knives from the desk next to him and handed one to Tobor.

    Stepping near-silently down the stair case, Tobor followed Sibas with weapon outstretched. When Sibas reached the bottom of the stairs, he straightened up and laughed. Confused, Tobor looked over Sibas’ shoulder into the main room.

    Shiko stood, hugging Miro. Caoki the Dothraki stood with his huge forearms crossed leaning against the wall. Poor Jyro lay on the table, wrapped in cloth. The man that Ben had sent to chase down Caoki and Jyro with Shiko stood talking to Ben himself.

    “I had to persuade the guards that the girl was my handmaiden, the Dothraki my bodyguard and the boy here was my deceased son whom I was burying in the city. Now that was a fun conversation.” He laughed. Ben chuckled, “Well done. I’d say we’re all ready to go now.”

    Tobor and Sibas entered the room. Tygren spotted them and leapt up, “What are you to doing with my daggers?” He asked with a half-smile on his face. Tobor grinned, “Thought you might want them back.” Sibas nodded and the two of them handed over the blades.

    Sibas glanced at Tobor and gave a small smile. Ben looked over to them both, “You two alright now? Heard you had a little scrap. Kissed and made up?” He said with a glint in his eye. “And Tobor, how’s Meereen at this time of night, beautiful no?”

    Tobor gulped, “I-I…” he stuttered. Ben and the other sellswords laughed, “It’s alright boy, I’m not your mother. You’re back and that’s what matters.” He said kindly. Tobor smiled weakly.

    Sibas walked over to Jyro, “Is he alright?” He asked worriedly. Caoki spoke up, “He is good for what he has been through.”

    Ben looked grim, “It’s a wonder he’s made it this far.” He mused. Sibas put a hand on his friend’s forehead, “I’m here, Jyro. You’ll make it through, be strong.”

    Tobor looked at Ben, “What happened to going to the auction?” He asked. Ben shrugged, “We managed to find fourteen or fifteen potential sellswords. Most are next door; a couple are there.” He pointed at two other men in the room that Tobor hadn’t seen.

    One was a huge tower of a man, the other thin but muscular. Tobor nodded to them. “So, we’re leaving soon?” He asked anxiously, Mina still hadn’t arrived. Ben nodded. “At sunrise.” He looked out the window, the light was just beginning to creep over the rooftops of Meereen. “Which will be soon.”

    Tobor bit his lip. “What is it son?” Ben asked, noticing Tobor’s anxiety. “I’m waiting for someone to join us, the person I went to see.” He said sheepishly. Ben smiled, “A lady friend, I’m sure.” He chuckled.

    Tobor went slightly red, “No! Well, yes but not in that way.” He said indignantly. “Mina is my friend. I owe her an escape from the city.” Ben winked, “Of course, my boy. I’m sure she’s a friend. Now, if she can make it in time, then she is welcome to join us. If not, then I’m sorry.”

    Tobor bit his lip again.

    The hooded man threw back his hood, his hair rippling as he ran down the narrow streets. Behind him, his men followed, all eager for blood. There was a fight to be had, and by the gods would he give it to them.

    If the information the girl had given him was true, they were mere minutes away from their goal, what they had been hunting. If the information wasn’t true, she would feel the meaning of the word pain.

    They reached a square and the hooded man held up his arm for them to stop, his men slowed to a halt behind him. Looking down at the paper he clutched in his hands, the hooded man read the last lines of the directions. “Follow the path into the market square, take the third passage from the left and go into the house on the left.”

    The hooded man glanced up, into the square and looked from left to right. He counted three passages and smiled upon seeing the house on the left of the third passage. His stomach clenched, even after years of battle and killing.

    He drew his blade, a vicious bastard sword drinking up the morning sunlight just creeping over Meereen. “There it is.” He said, pointing at the aforementioned house. “The twat’s in there.”

    The message was passed back down the line to the dozen or so men with him. Grasping his sword with both hands, the hooded man entered the square slowly, confidently. Almost arrogant, he strolled across the open with his men in tow.

    They lined up, outside the door of the house and the hooded man tried the latch on the door, it was open. Quietly opening up, the hooded man peered in. When he didn’t see anyone, he opened the door fully and stepped inside. Now where is Tobor, he thought.

    With his sword poised, the hooded man carefully trod through the house, anxious not to make any noise. Behind him, he heard footsteps and turned around to face the noise. He smiled as he saw one of his men cradling the dying man who had chosen to walk out of a room at the wrong time and was now watching his own blood spill from his throat down his bare chest.

    The man who had killed him lay down the corpse gently and wiped his shortsword on the breeches he was wearing. The hooded man glanced at the man’s face, not Tobor, he said to himself.

    The hooded man pointed to two of his man and pointed to the two rooms that hadn’t been checked, they each nodded and entered the rooms brandishing weapons. The hooded man beckoned the rest of them and they followed him upstairs.

    The stairs creaked as they were climbed, it seemed to shatter the silence but no-one came. As the troupe reached the top of the staircase they fanned out, seamlessly understanding where to go.

    The hooded man entered a bedroom where five or six boys lay sleeping, there were swords and other weapons littered by their feet. The hooded man looked at the man with him and slid his finger slowly across his own throat. Kill them.

    “How long will you stay with us, Miro?” Tobor asked the Naathi boy. Miro shrugged, “I am not sure. I have ask Shiko to come with me to Naath and she has say yes. We can leave soon or late.”

    Tobor smiled, “I’m glad, well I’m sure you’re welcome to stay with us as long as you need. Or you could go to the docks here in Meereen and go aboard a ship to Naath in a few hours. It’s up to you.” He told Miro.

    Miro nodded, “I will talk with Shiko now. I must go.” He said, excusing himself and walking upstairs. Tobor sat back and yawned, he hadn’t realised just how tired he was. After all, he hadn’t slept since escaping the pyramid the previous morning or fighting in the Trial of the Seven. Tobor sighed when he realised just how much had happened in such a short amount of time, and it all felt like so long ago.

    Tobor thought of Tazhyn, he wondered how she was and if Reznar had been angry with her. Perhaps he thought she’d had a hand in Tobor’s escape. Tobor then thought about whether Reznar was angry with the hooded man considering he’d ruined Reznar’s plan to kill Tobor in the pit. Tobor laughed bitterly at the irony, both men were so desperate to kill him that they’d ruined each other’s plans.

    “What you laughing at?” Sibas asked. Tobor shook his head, “Nothing.” He said, waving the question away. Sibas stretched and groaned, “Fuck me I’m tired, can’t wait to get out of here so I can finally sleep.” He yawned, running a hand through his shocking red hair. “Completely agree.” Tobor said. “Feel like I haven’t slept in bloody years.”

    Sibas nodded, then grew sombre. “I’m worried about Jyro.” He said, then looked down. Tobor wasn’t sure what to say, “He’s strong, I believe he’ll make it.” He said, not fully believing even his own words.

    Sibas looked as doubtful as Tobor felt, “I’m not sure.” He said. “His breathing is short and shallow, he’s as pale as a sheet and his heart beats weak. I’m starting to think Ben may be right.”

    “About what?” Tobor asked. Sibas shrugged, “Well, I think we should leave him here.” He said simply, almost seeming like he despised even saying the words. Tobor scratched his chin, “Are you sure? He would go straight back into slavery.”

    Sibas groaned, “I know, but he’d die otherwise.” He said. Tobor bit his lip, “Some would say slavery is worse than death.” He said grimly.

    “Ben said he had contacts that could help them find a good place, didn’t he?” Sibas said hopefully. Tobor started to answer but then paused. Sibas frowned, “What is it?” He asked but Tobor held up a hand.

    “Not this again.” Sibas said. “You sure it’s not just our friends again?” He mocked. Tobor shook his head, his heart beginning to pump faster. “No.” He said firmly. “I hear steel.”

    Sibas stood up, “I hear it to.” He said. There were faint shouts coming through the walls and indistinct clashes of steel. “Get weapons.” Tobor hissed, “I’ll tell the others.”

    As Sibas hurried to gather all the swords, spears and axes that the sellswords had brought with them, Tobor grabbed hold of his arakh and rushed upstairs to where Ben, Tygren, Armond, and a few other sellswords who’s names Tobor was unsure of, were.

    Tobor rushed in, “Something’s wrong. I can hear people fighting.” He told them, speaking fast. Ben stood and made a calming gesture with his hands, “Quiet down lad, people fight in Meereen each moment.”

    Tobor shook his head, “This is different. I can hear swords. It sounds like a massacre.” He told them. Tygren frowned, “Where are the sounds coming from?” He asked. Tobor answered, “It seemed like they came through the wall.”

    Armond suddenly shushed everyone and put his ear to the wall. “I hear it. Screams.” He said grimly.

    Ben snapped into action, “All of you sorry lot, get your weapons, put on armour if you have it. It’s time for a fight.” He said sternly. The room exploded as each sellsword leapt up and prepared for battle. Sibas walked in and held out a bundle, he’d collected all the weapons. “Here you are.” He said, taking a large spear in his hands and testing out the weight.

    Tygren flipped his two blades over in his hands and grinned, “I haven’t had a good fight in a while, my two babes are thirsty.” He said, brandishing his daggers. Armond held a shortsword in one hand and a small axe in the other. Ben had a hand-and-a-half sword slung over his shoulder.

    Tobor gripped the arakh that had taken him through the Trial of the Seven. He turned to Sibas, “Looks like a little longer before we can sleep.” He joked. Sibas smiled, “As long as I can kill some twats I’m fine.”

    “He’s not here!” The hooded man yelled, looking around the room. Bodies littered the floor, blood leaking from various wounds. The hooded man reached forward and held up the head of one of the corpses, he couldn’t tell what colour hair the dead boy had it was covered in so much blood. The face wasn’t Westerosi so the hooded man grunted and dropped the head back to the floor with a thud.

    “We’ve got the wrong house!” One of his men shouted as he put his sword through the back of a boy running away in fear. The hooded man scowled, “Keep looking!” He bellowed. He couldn’t believe what a farce this had turned into, they were supposed to keep it quiet, kill each occupant silently and then look through the corpses to find Tobor. But one of the men had decided to stab one of the boys in the stomach, leaving him to wail for a few seconds until he too, was silenced.

    That had been enough to wake up the rest of the house, and they’d panicked, some had fought. Most were dead now, but they’d lost the element of surprise, Tobor could be gone now.

    The hooded man swore and kicked a corpse. He heard a war cry below.

    “With me now!” Brown Ben Plumm yelled as he charged into the house, flailing his sword. Tobor followed on, mad with the excitement of battle. He watched as Ben ploughed into a man dressed in black and punctured his gut with his sword.

    Tobor saw a man walk down the stairs carrying the body of a boy. Enraged by how young the boy was, Tobor leapt past Ben and hacked at the man’s legs. The arakh bit deep into flesh and hit bone. The man screamed and fell, his weakened leg buckling beneath the weight. He fell in a crumpled heap down the stairs and Tobor placed a well-aimed blow between his eyes with the arakh.

    Tobor saw Tygren slash and slice at a man with both his blades, and Armond bury his axe into a man’s skull. But he ignored them, the hooded man may well be here. Tobor sprinted up the stairs and a man appeared at the top of the staircase, brandishing a Morningstar.

    His opponent had the height advantage but Tobor was far to angry to care for that, he flattened himself to the wall when the Morningstar came flailing down and then leapt forward, driving the point of the arakh into his chest and up with the curve of the blade. Tobor felt the point exit the man’s back.

    Tobor’s momentum carried him and the dying man over, where they fell. Tobor jumped back up and pulled his blade from the chest of the corpse below him. Armond joined him at the top of the stairs, “You trying to get killed boy?” He asked breathlessly.

    Tobor ignored him and parried an incoming strike from a man who’d emerged from a side room. Two more opponents joined the hallway. Tobor and Armond stood back to back and defended themselves against the onslaught of blades.

    Tobor dispatched one of the men with a swift blow to the neck, while Armond struggled against the other two. Turning around to help, Tobor was surprised when one of the man shrieked in pain for no apparent reason, then clutched his ankle. Armond seized the opportunity and flung his axe end over end, sinking into the downed man’s neck.

    Sibas whooped with glee and withdrew his spear from in-between the bannisters, he had threaded the spear through and jabbed at his feet. “Downstairs is clear!” Sibas yelled.

    Tobor turned to see Armond behead the last man. “Any others up there?” Sibas asked. Tobor shrugged, “Not sure.” He answered. Tygren and Ben joined them up the stairs along with a couple others.

    They searched each room and all they found was death, all of the slaves they had picked up from the auction were dead, save one who was clearly on his last legs with a knife in his back.

    Tobor swore, “This is fucking…” He began but couldn’t finish the sentence. “I know.” Ben said morosely. Tobor crossed the room and looked out the window, “Fuck, there’s more of them! Running!” He said. And indeed, there were.

    Tobor looked down the street and could see several dark figures running away, one wore a cloak with a hood that had fallen down. Tobor gritted his teeth. The hooded man had done this.

    He whirled around and stormed out the room, breaking into a sprint despite Ben calling him back and asking what he was doing. Tobor took the steps on the fly and burst out the front door.

    “Coward!” Tobor screamed.

    The man in the cloak stopped and turned around, Tobor’s heart felt like it would burst out of his chest. The man looked directly at him, although Tobor couldn’t make out his face in the shadows cast by the rising sun. Was that the remains of a burnt face, or just a trick of the light? Tobor asked himself.

    In one fluid and disturbing movement, the man reached back and drew the hood over his head, then turned on his heal and vanished down a passage. Tobor began to run but felt a sharp tug. Sibas had grasped his arm and would not let go.

    “What are you going to do, take him on your own?” Sibas said scornfully. Tobor struggled against the larger boy. “If I must.” He grunted. Sibas grabbed him by the shoulders, “Don’t be a fool Tobor!” He said angrily. “Yes, they’re monsters, but fighting them all won’t help, you’ll be killed.”

    Tobor broke free, “You don’t understand I only need to fight one of them! That’s the man who’s been trying to kill me for months!” He said furiously. Sibas was taken aback, “Trying to kill you? But… Why?”

    Tobor sat at the table in the first house, absent-mindedly scratching at the dried blood that covered his bare chest. After explaining the situation to Sibas, Tobor had joined the sellswords in piling up the bodies from the other house. There were twenty-five corpses in total. A mixture of the hooded man’s group and the slaves.

    No burial or funeral pyre could be constructed in such short time, so Ben had written a note and pinned it on the front door of the house. ‘Dead inside, please bury.’ And he had left several Meereenese Honours in a bag inside the hallway for the grave diggers.

    Afterwards, Ben had gathered everyone in the room of the first house. “Tonight has been a rough night, for us all. We will mourn the dead, not now, but later. For the moment, we must leave. The guard on duty at the gate owes me a favour so he’ll turn a blind eye to us leaving, but we must go now. Who knows if the people who attacked us will come again.” He said. Sibas glanced at Tobor.

    Tobor hadn’t told Ben about the hooded man yet and had asked Sibas to keep quiet about it for the moment.

    The sellswords packed away their few belongings in a sombre silence, two of their own had been lost in the fight. A man named Dwyan and another named Korlan. Tobor grabbed a bucket of cold water and began rinsing the blood from his chest. There was a cracked mirror that he used to look at his face and wash.

    When he was done, he looked at the floor. The red-tinged water had pooled on the floor, but what shocked Tobor the most was when he looked into the mirror again. The boy looking back at him was a stranger. All the puppy fat had gone from his face and stomach. His previously well-groomed golden hair had turned dirty blonde and was now straggly and down to the bottom of his neck.

    His face was lined and more defined now but looked haggard. His torso was well-cut now and he looked thin, the result of days of training and fighting with little food no doubt. The worse thing was his eyes, they used to shine with a twinkle but now they looked sad and tired.

    Tobor splashed water on his face and shook the drops off, it was odd seeing his body but not recognising it. Tobor joined the others downstairs as they were ready to leave. Miro asked him if he was alright, but Tobor just gave him a quick half-smile that meant nothing.

    Tobor didn’t notice anything as he walked behind Tygren on the way to the gate of Meereen, he just held onto his arakh and the sack of money Mina had given him and walked. As he walked, he thought. Tobor thought of Mina, he was worried now. The last time he had seen her, she had just gotten back from spying on the hooded man and killing one of his men, then Tobor had given her directions.

    Now, the hooded man had shown up at where they were staying. Tobor told himself it was just a coincidence but it didn’t help. Tobor’s stomach churned with guilt, he should have stayed with her, or made her come, or something. Anything but leave her.

    Tobor had been looking forward to leaving Meereen ever since he’d gotten off that bastard pirate ship, but under such circumstances as these, he couldn’t feel any positive emotion. They passed through the gate and Tobor Hightower walked out of Meereen free, but he looked back up at the sprawling city in front of him and all he could think of was a girl who helped him, who he’d put in danger.

    Mina struggled against her bonds idly, not trying to escape as such. She just wanted to do something to avoid looking at Grezan.

    Her brother’s body was slumped not six feet away from her, his blood still dripping onto their house’s floor. Mina had cried for what felt like hours, but now her cheeks felt stiff and Mina didn’t feel much at all.

    The hooded man had been gone for a while, leaving her with two of his men. One of them had tried to comfort her, but that was hard to do when his leader had just murdered the girls brother. The other had told him to ‘shut the fuck up’ but Mina wasn’t paying attention.

    Everything felt fuzzy, like Mina had been holding her breath for days. She felt dizzy when she moved her head too fast and she felt cold and clammy. Every few minutes Mina would forget that Grezan was dead, and she’d look down and see the look on his face. But after a while, Mina wouldn’t feel sad.

    Mina looked down to avoid looking at Grezan and looked at her hand, it was grazed and burnt from when she had ripped free from the bindings. Mina felt like another person had done that, someone who wasn’t her. Mina didn’t feel like the same person who had decided to spy on the hooded man or the same person who had handed over the note or the same person who had watched her brother die in front of her.

    Mina started laughing, she didn’t know why. She didn’t find anything especially funny, she didn’t feel happy, in fact she didn’t feel much at all. She just laughed.

    One of the men asked her a question but Mina didn’t hear it. Noises sounded odd. Mina stopped laughing and tugged at her bindings again. It hurt her burn but the pain felt right, it felt different. Like a distraction.

    One of the men walked over to her and slapped her, hard. Mina’s head snapped to the right and then lolled down onto her chest. Mina looked back up at the man but her eyes weren’t focussed.

    The man said something.

    Mina shook her head.

    The man sighed and walked back over the corner where he was sat before. The other man glanced at Mina and then walked over to him. Mina almost listened to what they were saying, something about the girl and then consciousness. Mina shut her eyes and tried to drown out the noise around her.

    She heard the door open. Mina opened her eyes and saw the hooded man in front of her. He took down his hood and knelt in front of her. He started talking at her. Mina heard the odd word here and there, information, dead, Tobor. At the mention of his name, Mina slightly perked up.

    “…You won’t be seeing much of him anymore.” The hooded man was saying. He stood up and limped over to the other men who had joined him. Mina glanced at his feet, the hooded man’s breeches had blood all over them stemming from his thigh.

    “You’ve all done well tonight. With any luck, Tobor will be found and killed soon enough. We will re-group and continue. We will burn him to the ground!” He said heatedly. Mina smiled, Tobor was still alive.

    “You still couldn’t do it.” Mina whispered. The hooded man tensed, “What was that?” He asked. Mina just smiled. The hooded man limped over, “What did you say?” He said calmly.

    “You still couldn’t do it. Tobor Hightower is ten times the man you are.” Mina drawled. The hooded man chuckled, “You’ll get no such rise out of me.” He told her. “I have no more use for you.”

    The hooded man stood and turned around. Mina saw the two men who had been guarding her snap to attention and stop talking with one another. “You two.” The hooded man said. “Take her outside and dump her body in the Skahazadan.”

    Mina heard these words and expected to feel angry about them, or sad. But she felt calm. Mina willed herself to feel something but found nothing. The hooded man turned to her. He showed her a dagger. “This is the knife I used to slit your brother’s throat. This is also the knife you used to kill my man all those months ago. It’s almost fitting that it’s used to kill you too. Poetic even.” He said venomously.

    Mina looked over his shoulder, suddenly feeling a burst of emotion. Grezan gone, Tobor alive but hunted, Mina was going to join her brother soon. What would Tavor think of them? What would Tavor think of Mina, this was her fault after all.

    “Is that a tear, sweet girl?” The hooded man asked. Mina didn’t answer, but the hooded man pointed her dagger at her face. Mina flinched away but the hooded man scraped the point gently on her cheek, when he brought it away Mina saw that amidst her brother’s dried blood was a tear.

    “Don’t cry, you can go and see Grezing soon.” He said in a soothing tone. Mina looked him dead in the eye. “Grezan.” She whispered. The hooded man shrugged, “And don’t think this time I’ll leave you alone with my men. I don’t make the same mistake twice, usually I don’t make it once. You are special, girl. If only I had someone like you. You could have killed Tobor ten-fold by now.”

    The hooded man cut through Mina’s bindings and grabbed her tightly by the arm, he shoved her towards the two men he’d ordered to carry out her murder. She was caught by one of them who steadied her. The other was handed her knife.

    “Come on boys, there’s a spectacle to be watched.” The hooded man announced to the room. Mina was taken outside, the man holding her was saying something but Mina wasn’t listening.

    Mina kept her eyes forward and thought about her brothers. She watched the cobbled stones drift by and her feet drift over them, but her mind was someplace else.

    The sun had risen over Meereen now, casting early morning shadows on the ground. Tendrils of clouds crept over the blue ocean that was the morning sky. Birds sang their morning chorus and yet the city was quiet. Meereen had not yet awoken, it was dreaming and would not remember this.

    Mina woke from her own dream and looked down at her feet. She was at the bank of the Skahazadan, ten feet above the water. Mina looked behind her, a dozen men stood surrounding the hooded man. One stood behind Mina holding the knife. He said some words and Mina looked forward.

    Mina pictured her family. Her father was hugging her mother, who Mina could not remember but she was beautiful in her thought. Tavor was speaking with her parents and Grezan stormed into the room, brandishing a stick. Mina smiled and wondered who he was playing with. Mina looked to her right and saw a blonde haired young boy giggle and run into the room, fighting with Grezan happily.

    Mina looked over the city of Meereen. She could see several large Pyramids and knew each one by name, she saw houses spread out over streets and alleys that she knew snaked in and out of market places. Mina looked up and saw the golden sun rising up above the city and for a moment, Meereen shone gold.

    Mina felt steel slide over her neck, then felt herself falling forwards. Mina held out her arms to embrace the cold waters of the Skahazadan.

  • edited May 2018

    Well. Sorry? I suppose.

    I'm sorry.

  • edited May 2018

    No! No, no, no, no, no, no! Fuck! This can't actually be it for Mina, can it? Fuck, no! I don't even know what to say. Please don't tell me that is actually what happened here. This is probably the most crushed I've ever felt from reading a story here, after already fearing the worst ever since the last part came. Just as I thought she'd actually have a shot at surviving this, then her and Grezan both die in the same part. Or did she? I don't even know if that is truly what happened, though I'll get into that below. I'm sorry, I know I should say more about this, I know I should at the least not be disappointed, but that has been a bit too much to take in. When Grezan came in, I thought she'd have a chance at fleeing. When the hooded man left her with only two guards, I thought she'd have a chance at fleeing. For a moment I even thought one of them would end up developing a conscience and help her. And now it seems like her death was certain from the very beginning and I feel plain stupid for having hoped for her survival, or for having that excitement over her maybe even joining with these sellswords. Shouldn't have gotten my hopes up like that. I don't even know what else I can say. Not even certain if she's really dead or if the guy who was going to execute her took pity on her and just made it look like it, given how odd this end was written. It seems she never had a chance though no matter how much I tried to play it safe for her. At this point, I don't even feel anger at the hooded man, even though I should. It's more hollow. I know I should rant now and probably everyone expects me to do that, about how that guy is a complete monster, how every single one of his men is devoid of even the tiniest redeeming quality and don't get me wrong, that's what they are. I feel stupid for having believed them to be actual people with humanizing traits. I won't have any of that, but at the same time, I feel like it doesn't matter if I go into a pages long rant about them. There's really not the drive to say much about these monsters. Fuck them, fuck the hooded man, fuck Tobor for leaving Mina behind. Don't even know whom to root for now, because I honestly cannot forgive Tobor for leaving her and for dragging her into that whole mess to begin with. It's his fault as much as it is the hooded man's means he is as dead to me as the hooded man and his thugs. He should have fought his own battles from the beginning and I regret the day Mina got involved with him. I'm sorry and I know how irrational I sound and that I don't make any sense right now, but this is legitimately the most crushed I felt from reading a part of any story. If that's what you've been aiming for, then yes, this is probably the strongest reaction I ever had in a story. It is a compliment in a way, I guess, but I can't help but feel like I am reacting stronger than I should be. Probably should have toned down my passion from the beginning, or at least not tried to put so much of it into Mina. It is probably my fault for getting so invested in her, because I hate to react like this and I know, it is my own fault for getting so excited over what could have been. I probably would have been calmer if I wouldn't have absolutely adored her place in the story and gotten all excited over possible future stuff. As I said, I am sorry for being such a downer about this and for taking it so much harder than I am probably supposed to take it, but still, I can't focus on pointing out anything else in the part but how I feel about the end of it.

    I know I should say more about how well-written that part was, which it was, but that has been too much for me to take in and I feel crushed and disappointed at myself for having thought that she ever had a chance at surviving, so I cannot even say anything else. I probably shouldn't have read that part. It kinda feels like any bit of excitement is gone right now, even excitement to get vengeance on the hooded man and usually, I am always excited for vengeance, so I don't know how to deal with that or what to look forward for or whom to root. After all, who is left to take revenge? Now I already wrote more than I thought I'd wrote. So, I don't know what else there is left to say. I know this is probably not how I should react, but it is as genuine as I can be here. Grezan, I feel bad for him even if I knew he'd die from the beginning, but Mina... I honestly thought there was more in store for her, it did seem like it was, with the choice to accompany Tobor, with so much time spent with her trying to free herself, maybe a redemption arc for betraying him or something like that or getting revenge on the hooded man for killing Grezan and I thought there was a chance, it all seemed like there was a chance from our talks and the part itself. I see how stupid my hope has been and how my attempts at saving her against all odds didn't matter. There hasn't been a chance for her, but still, this is harder than I thought it would be. Losing both of them at once, that is even worse than just having Mina dying and I kinda feel like any bit of comeuppance the hooded man can get won't matter to me now. If he dies quickly, or if he dies in as much pain as a human being can be or if he survives and lives to a ripe old age, I don't really think it matters to me. Yeah, I hope the hooded man and all of his subhuman lackeys die screaming, tortured in unspeakable ways, but I find it hard to dedicate myself to this new goal, because there's nothing left after it. Mina is gone, my main goal has failed and I am kinda shocked that I don't even have the desire to push for the utter annihilation of everything and everyone the hooded man ever loved and held dear in return. Don't get me wrong, it's probably what I am going to do, but it won't be the same. Worst of it all, I don't even know if she is truly dead or if they botched the execution on account of one of them not being a complete monster and just pushing her into the water, or him not cutting deep enough but me clinging to her survival is probably delusional by now. Or maybe I see things just more hopeless than they are or more negative, but I don't know how else to interpret that ending. The fact that it didn't outright say that she died, not even actually saying it cut her throat, merely sliding over her neck is something that keeps running through my mind. Could be something, a hint that I'm getting all worked up over nothing, or just me interpreting things the wrong way again. In the end, it's probably as futile as my attempts at not having her throw away her life for Tobor. But it kinda seems she was damned from the beginning. Maybe it is for the best, given how I tend to put way too much passion into the characters I submit, but I cannot help but feeling equal parts, crushed, kinda hollow and at the same time grasping for just about any straw I can find. No, it's probably not for the best. I know my hope has been futile from the beginning and Tobor is probably going to find her corpse in the very next part, but still, I keep hoping that won't be it, not so soon, not like this. It feels like the story has just started and Mina being already dead, her subplot being over and there being no hope for her, that feels almost surreal, so maybe I'm just trying to find hope when I shouldn't. I feared exactly this, but having hoped for so much more in store, having the chance for something better for her so close and then realizing that it was futile from the beginning, that is making it only worse.

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XII Trembling, Mina held out the scrap of paper and the hooded man snapped his fingers. The man cl

  • edited May 2018

    Okay... I'm gonna be pretty honest here and hope that no one's feelings are hurt. All I feel right about now can be summed up in one word. Disappointment. Maybe a little frustrated? I don't know. The part itself leading up to the end was good but that ending just leaves me feeling so drained. It just feels so sudden. Like "K, Mina's dead now" It just kinda... happened? Part of me is like "Maybe she's not dead?" but I really feel that I'm setting myself up for disappointment. I don't know how else I'm supposed to feel and I'm sorry for saying this... but I hated it. I even feel rather bitter about past parts now that I previously liked. Because now I feel that they just don't matter. Tobor coming back for her, Mina staying loyal or trying to save herself, even her brother dying. Doesn't matter because it all lead to her death. Plus there's no one around to give a shit. And even that her overall presence in the story doesn't matter. I feel like a dick for saying that but it's how I feel.

    I still love this story though and I will continue reading but I feel that really needed to be said. Really hoping you don't take it personally.

    EDIT: Wow, I'm fucking bummed. I can't think of anything else after reading this.

    Crucial Fights and Tested Faith Part XII Trembling, Mina held out the scrap of paper and the hooded man snapped his fingers. The man cl

  • edited May 2018

    My god, Agent... you took the words right out of my mouth. No, you actually put it better, while I am reduced to a mumbling, horrified mess (to no small degree due to the fact that I am currently running on a single hour of sleep on account of this part being the last I read before going to bed last night. Spoiler alert, big mistake, have barely managed to close my eyes without thinking about this part), I feel like you really managed to put into words what I meant to say with all of my long and kinda unnecessary mumbling. As I said, I am sleep-deprived right now and legitimately crushed, so my apologies for the long comment, but maybe I'll feel at least less drained if I put my thoughts into words. And as much as I am crushed and hopeless and disappointed and drained over the events in this part, I am actually tearing up a bit at the realization that I am not the only one feeling that way, so gotta thank you for that. Might just be the critical lack of sleep, but it feels good to know that at least part of my overwhelmingly negative feelings towards this part are not just me overreacting as usual. Obviously, I had a connection most personal to Mina's character, so seeing that gone and in this particular way on top of it, it is incredibly disheartening. Maybe this is why I cling to the hope that she survived. The narrative has been just unclear enough to allow speculation if the guy actually cut her throat and if it is the one who earlier expressed sympathy, it might not even be too far fetched, given that after a ten foot drop into the river, she'd be out of the hooded man's sight and considered dead by him. It is just enough to make me doubt, because it sounded like there was so much more in store for Mina than such an unnecessary death after what feels like essentially the first act of the story. Maybe we are both wrong, or maybe this is exactly what happened and I am just grasping for straws. That might be the strongest reaction I ever had out of any part in any story and because of how negative it is, I feel like I just have to keep up my hopes, because there is literally nothing else to do.

    But I gotta admit, it is a slim hope, born out of a sleep-deprived and really crushed mind. To see that all the excitement I had for her future has been for nothing, I don't know, I can barely put into words how I feel about it. I love the story, aye, I wouldn't get so worked up over it if I'd be indifferent towards it, or towards Mina's character, but I can't help but feel that everything we did in her parts has been entirely pointless, her choices and partially even Tobor's (such as visiting her instead of Tazhyn). Her not throwing a stone didn't matter, the hooded man saw her regardless and caught up to her. Her going with Tobor didn't matter, the hooded man ruined that. Her trying to save her life by giving the hooded man Tobor's whereabouts didn't matter, that guy launched a completely ineffective attack onto Tobor's hideout and Mina died regardless. Grezan died as well, meaning the only person with a meaningful connection to her has died just moments before her own death and that means I don't even have the motivation to pursue vengeance. You know best how worked up I can get over stuff like this, but for the record, this one's on a completely different level from that other time, because this time, it feels like all the stuff I was so excited about amount to nothing in the end, leaving me more hollow and disappointed than with the anger I should feel about the hooded man. After all, where's the point in being angry, or trying to get revenge? From where I am concerned, the hooded man won, plain and simple and even if Tobor ever manages to defeat him, I don't think that'll mean much to me anymore. In fact, as I said, Tobor's own role in Mina's death, as unintended as it was, has made me wholly indifferent to him as a character. That is something I don't think anyone else will share with me, but considering I used to like Tobor's character, seeing him just leaving Meereen instead of chasing after the hooded man and trying to save Mina, that is disappointing beyond words. The only one I remain positive towards is Tazhyn and even then I cannot hide my bitterness. Mina is dead, most likely at least, nobody who gives a damn is even there and it'll likely be years in-story until Tobor learns about it, at which point it'll be but a footnote. Really, to think that there are ten chapters left and likely the same amount until the hooded man gets a comeuppance, as hollow as it'd feel, I don't know.

    I mean, I kinda feel like I am sounding way too harsh here and I would like to point out that I am in legit shock and really haven't slept much at all, meaning I might be more negative than what is appropriate. Last thing I wanna do is sounding like a dick, or as if I don't appreciate the story so far, even if you are right, every past interaction between Tobor and Mina is leaving an extremely sour taste in my mouth now, which is a shame given how it used to be my favourite moments in the story. The story is great, I wouldn't be so damn emotional if that wasn't the case, but drained sounds about right. I was just so excited about what might happen in its future, but I don't see how I can be excited now and that is, well, you probably know how I feel. With Mina gone, my main goal has effectively failed and I feel thoroughly crushed, legitimately not knowing what I should even root for. Tobor's victory over the hooded man? Why though, Mina's dead, it won't matter to me. So, I really want to continue reading, but in terms of choices, I'll probably just pledge my vote to you. My own enthusiasm has been severely tarnished, so the best I have left to do is to support the choices you want to see winning, in the hopes that your passion can remain at least.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Okay... I'm gonna be pretty honest here and hope that no one's feelings are hurt. All I feel right about now can be summed up in one word. D

  • Glad that we can suffer together at least. :) I'd advise sticking with the story and giving it a chance. I know you're not happy with Tobor but hopefully you can get invested in his story again. He's bound to encounter more interesting characters that you might get invested in. Obviously no one's ever going to fill Mina's shoes but still. My own character is yet to be introduced which I'm really looking forward to. My point is that we may not be pleased with this particular part but it's still a great story and I believe there will be more that we can get into. :)

    My god, Agent... you took the words right out of my mouth. No, you actually put it better, while I am reduced to a mumbling, horrified mess

  • Hmm, well I suppose thank you for being honest, I do appreciate that.

    So I'm assuming the frustration and disappointment has come from the way it's been written and not from what's actually happened? You say it feels like nothing mattered, but think of how it all affects Tobor. I mean, at the end of the day it is his story, he is the main character. Loved though Mina is, she is a side character.

    With regards to how hopeless you feel that it "all lead to her death", at the beginning of Tobor's escape of the fighting pits, I started planning in detail the next Mina parts. I said to myself that I wanted one combination of choices to lead to this moment, a real chance for it to happen.

    There were three choices that decided it
    Seeing Mina or Tazhyn
    Throwing the Stone or putting it down
    Burning or Handing over the paper

    I hadn't planned to explain this, but I while I was expecting a strong reaction, I wasn't quite expecting people to hate the parts, or be disappointed.

    So, if Tobor went to see Mina things progressed as they had. If Tobor had gone to see Tazhyn, I wouldn't have written that Mina part until later on in the story, and it would have only be a very short one. She would have still spied on the hooded man, but things would have been different. Tobor had been spotted near the zo Merreq Pyramid recently and Mina would have left to go and find him, but with no success. There would have been no getting caught spying, no getting ambushed by the hooded man, he wouldn't have cared about Mina since he said himself it was only after she came back to spy, that he lost it with her.

    If Mina had decided to throw the stone, it would have hit the hooded man but the man behind her would have crept up on her and captured her. Unconscious, Mina would have woken up in the house she was spying on bound to a chair. There would have been a similar scene to the torture that occurred, where was Tobor. Since Mina clearly didn't know, the hooded man stopped them torturing her and said she would be taken as a hostage, a bargaining chip for later. Tobor would have shown up at Mina's and been confused as to where she was, stayed there until either Grezan came or Armond said it was time to go.

    If Mina had decided to burn the paper, she would have thrown the paper into the fire. The hooded man would have been furious and struck her, but he's not a big dumb brute who cant control his rage. He wouldn't have just killed Mina right then, but realised that he could use her. He would have sent his men to fetch Grezan, then while they were gone, he speaks to Mina and tells her that he's taking her with them, as an insurance policy to use against Tobor, his men bring Grezan in and the hooded man kills him in front of Mina. End of Chapter.

    I set it up so that there wasn't a huge chance for Mina to end up like this, I thought the Mina-Tazhyn choice could have gone either way, but I was certain you would all want to throw the stone, evidently wrongly so, finally I was convinced that rather than hand over your only bargaining chip and betray your friend at the same time, Mina would have chosen to spite the hooded man and burn the note, but many good counterpoints were made that were in favour of handing the note over.

    I'm obviously not blaming any of you for it, but every choice lead to the only outcome that ended like this, each round where one of these choices had to be made I hoped for the one that lead away from this moment.

    I do hope you'll carry on reading, I love doing this and the story will go on (hopefully as good as it was before), new characters will come, old will stick around and the story will carry on. Even with the disappointment shown by you and Liquid I will continue with my original plan, like I don't want to change my story as a whole because you weren't pleased with one part of it.

    But on the other side of it, I do understand where you're coming from. I can understand the frustration and disappointment. I was just trying to instil a bit of a feeling that anyone is in danger, not that anyone is doomed. I want to make it clear that Mina wasn't doomed from the start and that she just, like in real life or even the GoT series/books, had a series of choices that could have lead to her death. Game of Thrones isn't always about having a nice, lovely character arc where hero has a story, the hero has a problem, the hero solves the problem, the hero learns something etc.

    That does happen, Dany and Jaime are good examples of that. But there are other times, like with Robb for example, where the hero makes a wrong choice, marries the wrong girl and that has consequences. The red wedding was rather an abrupt end to his story arc, but in real life there are no story arcs, and that's what George R.R Martin was trying to get across. That's what I was trying to show, Mina was in danger and there were choices to be made. I made the consequences of those choices very clear to myself, that if this was chosen that would happen.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Okay... I'm gonna be pretty honest here and hope that no one's feelings are hurt. All I feel right about now can be summed up in one word. D

  • Right Liquid, I want to say that I fully understand where you're coming from. I've read everything you've said in response to it and definitely taken it on board. Like with Agent, I really hope you carry on reading, but not just to support Agent's choices, to follow it for yourself. I'm slightly saddened by the lack of care you have for Tobor's story, I understand it but still saddened. Mina is your character, you submitted her and care a great deal for her so I get it.

    But i'm still not understanding the anger at Tobor involving Mina. Mina was already involved, she was working with the hooded man. She didn't know he was trying to kill Tobor and when she found out, she wanted to help. Tobor asked her for help, and she said yes. She never had to. Tobor asked her to spy on him and try and look at his face, he didn't ask her to lie on his rooftop and peer down. All Mina had to do was see his face. But I suppose that's irrelevant now.

    Tobor is leaving Meereen in almost disgrace, he does think that he had a small hand in whatever Mina's fate is, but I don't think he does. Perhaps his only mistake was not staying with her, but what would Armond and he have been able to do against the dozens of men the hooded man brought to find Mina. Plus, Tobor would have been captured by the hooded man. There was no way he could fight out of it, the hooded man would have killed him. End of the story, no more parts.

    Don't be so quick to judge Tobor about leaving Meereen. He is on about as much sleep as you at the moment. The last 24 hours have been non stop action, he fought in the pit, he escaped an ambush for him by the hooded man, he watched his best friend (who'd betrayed him time and time again) die which left an emotional mark on him, he found a group of slaves who were escaping, and watched two die and one get severly hurt. He then was attacked again and had to jump over a huge drop, only to still be on the run. He was then captured once more, this time by potential friendlies, finally he is attacked once more and sees an absolute massacre.

    The toll on a young teenager is massive from that. Tobor is completely dead to the world by the end of this. He's in no fit state to take on one of the hooded man's guys, let alone the whole crew and the hooded man himself. He needs a sleep and some food. Then Tobor can think about helping Mina. As it stands, someone told Tobor to follow them out of Meereen and after the adrenaline of the fight wore off, Tobor accepted that was the way he should go. Maybe after a sleep and some food, Tobor will realise he should have stayed.

    I won't say much about the future of the story, but know that, like I said to agent, I'm not going to alter the path it takes. My plan remains the same.

    My god, Agent... you took the words right out of my mouth. No, you actually put it better, while I am reduced to a mumbling, horrified mess

  • To clarify, you should absolutely write the story how you want to write it. Don't ever change the plot because of how we might feel about it.

    I do understand what you're saying and even agree on some points. It may just be a personal thing with me but when a character dies I'm either really upset or disappointed and frustrated. I always need a character's death to mean something or lead up to something. When it feels like it just happened or there's no after effects of it, I get disappointed. I will admit I was a bit harsh in saying the choices didn't matter. I mostly meant from a story perspective as it feels that Mina's very character doesn't matter with the people being close to her also dead. I do feel reassured that it'll have some kind of lasting effect on Tobor.

    I may be disappointed but don't let that discourage you. I still love the story and will keep reading. Naturally not every part will be liked by everyone. I think the most important thing is that while you shouldn't ignore criticisms, that you should still write the story how you want to write it, don't change decisions just to please us. :)

    Hmm, well I suppose thank you for being honest, I do appreciate that. So I'm assuming the frustration and disappointment has come from th

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