The white clad man’s hopes weren’t high. Each time he approached he had heard a muffled dismissal from inside. After the first week, he had started leaving boxes of food on the doorstep. The neighbors reported that the occupant came out some time later to retrieve them. It was some small comfort for the guilt that the Paladin felt.

It had been ten weeks now and Sanguine devotedly approached the door and knocked softly, expecting another terse rebuke. But this time it was silent. Worried, Sanguine knocked again. What if something had happened? What if his friend was hurt, or worse? He turned around looking for someone nearby to see if there was any news- and just then the door creaked.

Whirling around, what met his eyes was a sorry sight. A long and dirty beard with streaks of grey. Grimy lines on the poor man’s face around his eyes, streaked by tears. Torn clothing still stained with blood.

The two men stared at each other for a long moment and tears welled in both their eyes. “We’re even,” the poor man finally croaked with a wry smile hidden behind his beard. Sanguine practically tackled him into a hug with something between a sob and a laugh. “We’re more than even,” Sanguine agreed in a whisper, holding him tight.

That night, Sanguine cooked Connor a hot meal and helped him clean his home and then himself. Connor’s neighbors gave him clothes in true Gothic tradition and they told stories back and forth of happier, simpler times. As the hour ran late, Sanguine poured Connor a cup of wine and the neighbors said their goodbyes.

Connor sipped at it as they sat alone before the fire. “Am I gonna be ok?” he asked quietly, looking down into his cup. His voice betrayed the hurt the hurt done to him and his doubt at his own recovery.

“You are, my friend,” Sanguine answered with determined warmth, watching him. “I’ll make sure of it.”

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