• Dryden still hadn’t returned by the time I finished talking to Stade, so I was stuck in musty old pawn shop with two sleeping strangers. I guess I was glad that Gabriel was still asleep, but was still part of me was overcome with curiosity.

    Nearly two hours had passed, and I was beginning to wonder if Dryden was ever going to show up when the cracked wooden door swung open. Dryden limped silently into the room carrying a large loaf of bread.

    “You’re still here,” he grumbled, not bothering to look at me.

    I just smiled spitefully, too exhausted to come up with a good comeback.

    He shifted the loaf of bread into his left arm and moved over towards Gabriel.

    “Gabriel,” Dryden whispered shaking him lightly, “Gabriel.”

    Gabriel sat up abruptly and opened his eyes, which were surprisingly large and brown. He was skinny and childish; nothing like I imagined someone with such power would look.

    Once Stade was awake Dryden and Gabriel gathered around the bed. I sat in the corner of the room, not sure whether I was supposed to join them or not.

    “Miss,” Stade called, “please come eat with us.”

    He ripped four chunks of bread off the loaf and handed each of us a piece. Dryden smirked, noticing my piece was the biggest.

    The bread was soft and sweet; it didn’t taste like anything they could afford.

    “It’s not stolen, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Dryden grumbled, shooting me a look.

    “We’re beggars, not thieves,” Stade explained politely.

    Gabriel took the wooden bowl I had drunken from earlier and dipped it into a bucket of water. We passed it around, refilling it each time. It wasn’t a meal I was used to, but I was grateful none the less.

    “Well, Miss,” Stade cleared his throat, “would you mind giving us your name?”

    I bit my lip, contemplating whether to give a pseudonym.

    “It’s Aeron,” I said at last.

    I couldn’t tell if Stade believed me, but the same kind expression remained on his face.

    “I’m Gabriel,” Gabriel grinned, jumping up and throwing his arms around me.

    I furrowed my eyebrows, not sure whether to punch him in the face or simply push him away.

    “Please excuse him,” Stade said, trying not to laugh, “Gabriel can be kind of… clingy.”

    I nodded and scooted away.

    “This is Dryden,” Stade continued motioning towards Dryden, “and I’m Stade.”

    “Um… nice to meet you,” I murmured, not sure what else to say.

    “You’re not very talkative are you?” Gabriel asked tilting his head quizzically.

    I shook my head, “Not really.”

    “I like to talk,” Gabriel grinned, “If you don’t talk, nobody will know what you think.”

    “So what?” I shrugged.

    Dryden rolled his eyes and sighed, annoyed. “We all know you like to talk, Gabriel,” he muttered cruelly.

    Gabriel’s face stiffened.

    “I’m very sorry, please excuse me,” he said stoically.

    Gabriel stood up and stepped evenly out the door.

    “Gabriel,” Stade called, “come back.”

    Dryden sneered.

    “He can take care of himself, he’s not a baby.”

    “Dryden, why do you have to be so harsh all the time,” Stade sighed.

    Dryden snickered and rose from the dirt floor and headed towards the door.

    “He can’t be any younger than that brat,” he grumbled motioning towards me, “and she seems tough enough.”

    Stade shook his head, “Gabriel looks up to you, why can’t you accept that?”

    Dryden stopped in the door frame.

    “No one should look up to me,” he said coldly