Naeris watched as Wolf-Puncher told the tale of how she earned her name. The assembled children had never looked so engrossed; so excited. They would be buzzing about this day for weeks. Naeris smiled, a little sadly, and slipped out into the hallway.
In their office, they removed the heavy pouch of coin from their belt and tossed it into a nearby chest. One hundred gold anvils. Enough to keep the orphanage open for another month. Two, with luck. Naeris sighed heavily. There were too many mouths to feed. Too many orphans created by the damned war. They would have to push harder, try to get more of them adopted–but for many families, the loss was too recent.
A knock at the door; a scruffy human ducked his head in and grinned when he saw Naeris. “I thought I smelled turnips on the way in,” he said as he closed the door behind him.
“That joke’s almost as old as you are, Cobbles,” Naeris groaned.
“Hey now, you’re technically older than me,” Cobbles said. “It’s not my fault you’re still a kid.”
Naeris grinned. “It’s good to see you.”
“Likewise. I was starting to worry about you, you know. If something happened to you…” Cobbles let the rest of the sentence hang, as he gestured vaguely to the building around them.
“I know. This place is barely afloat as it is. But don’t worry, I’m in good hands”
Cobbles laughed at that. “You mean the great brute downstairs? Yeah, she looks like she could take on an entire army.”
“Oh, she can,” Naeris chuckled. “Did, in fact. It was quite a sight.”
“She looks a lot like Tusk,” Cobbles arched a brow. “This isn’t a… thing, right?”
Naeris sighed, and gave their old friend a hard look. “She doesn’t really. It’s not. And you are still grossly misunderstanding the nature of my relationship with Tusk.”
“Right, you were just really close friends.”
“By the Six, would you stop? We never–I’ve never…” Naeris hesitated, and almost thought better of their next words. “She loved you. Always did. But you-you were so jealous about my friendship with her that when she tried to tell you, you hurt her and drove her away. You want to blame someone for what happened? Start looking in a fucking mirror.”
“She loved me?” Cobbles was shocked.
Naeris sank into their chair. “Yes,” they said sadly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have told you like this.”
“I don’t… why? Why tell me now?”
Naeris fell silent for a moment, and weighed the words carefully. “Because,” they started slowly, “I think I’ve figured out what happened to her.”