Nasud's face was already so pale that it wasn't possible for him to lose any more colour, but still his eyes widened and he shrank down a bit under the force of Mijinji's glare. "Didn't…didn't think they'd attack you. Thought they'd leave me alone 'til you left. Was going to figure it out from there."
Mijinji didn't let his expression waver. "That's not explaining."
The boy flinched. His gaze fell back to the ground for several moments as his tongue darted in and out, like a gopher looking for danger. Finally his eyes came back up to meet Mijinji's. "Didn't mean for it to happen. Was sleeping in the old house's cellar cause it was too hot. Didn't expect people to come in. Heard 'em talking about how they'd gotten some blasters and were going to use them on the Frosts' leader's girl's place. Then when the Frosts were all running about there, they were going to take them all out, starting with their main spot.
Didn't want to hear it, so as soon as they were gone, I ran. But one of 'em saw me. And then they started chasing me. Been dodging 'em for a week. Tried to lighten him," he said, nodding at Vergon. "But he caught me. And he gave me coin instead of calling the guards. He was good enough to catch me so I thought might be safer with him. Then I saw you, and you looked like you could scare off the Thorns. And then the lady came out and she was nice. Didn't expect you to fix me up. Didn't expect you to really hire me."
Mijinji resisted the urge to sigh. "So the Frosts and Thorns are rival…gangs, then?"
Nasud nodded rapidly. "Hate each other. Fight whenever they can. Frosts have been winning the last bit so I guess the Thorns felt they had to do something big."
"And you're not a member of either gang?"
"No. Did runner work for some of the Frosts twice but wasn't paid more than a circlet and they didn't come looking for more work."
This time Mijinji gave into his urge. It was obvious the boy was in over his head. If the way Clessa was looking at Nasud was any indication, she'd realized the same. He couldn't tell what Vergon thought since his partner was currently watching the square's fountain, his back to them. Not that he could tell what Vergon was thinking normally. But from his past behaviours, and because Clessa's expression made her intentions clear, he gave in to the inevitable. "Alright boy. Looks like we'll help you out. We can at least guard you until we head off. If they're still hanging around, we'll take you with us to the next city and drop you off somewhere you'll be safe. Does that sound good?"
Nasud's eyes went moon round as his mouth fell open. Mijinji laughed and dropped a hand onto the boy's head. "Keep your mouth open like that and you'll catch flies. Now let's get back to the inn. I don't like that those Horn people already know where we are."
Blinking several time as if to shoo away his shock, Nasud shook his head. "Thorns. They're called Thorns. They wear black and green."
"We should stop somewhere to pick up some food in case it's safer for us to stay at the inn," Clessa said, moving so she stood beside the boy.
Mijinji nodded and aimed his strolling pace towards the inn. "Good idea. We can pick up some trail rations while we're at it."
"Do you know where any good shops like that are, Nasud?"
"There's two good ones. One's not too far. Can take you there easy."
Glancing behind to ask the boy how far, Mijinji finally noticed that Vergon hadn't moved from his spot, still staring at the fountain, unblinking. Rolling his eyes, he walked back to his partner and grabbed his arm. "C'mon. We're going back to the inn."
The gaze Vergon turned on him was blank and unfocused, making Mijinji think Vergon wasn't actually seeing him. "What?"
"The inn. We're going back to it. Now."
Three long, slow blinks later and Vergon shook his head. "What?"
Mijinji glared. "I just told you. We're going back to the inn."
"Oh. That's good. Can I buy Disaster some potatoes on the way? Oh and I want one of those round sugar-things. The fruit ones."
"If they have them, fine. But we're not going all over the city hunting for them again."
Vergon pouted, expression entering the beginnings of stubbornness. Mijinji headed him off before he could go into full mulish Vergon, speaking quickly as he dragged his partner back to the other two. "But I'm sure they'll have some kind of dried fruit. You can buy some honey and dip them in it. It should be close enough."
Thinking it over for a moment, his partner suddenly nodded, grinning. "That sounds tasty. I want to try that instead. Oh! You said we're keeping Nasud. Should I properly introduce him to Disaster?"
Clessa raised an eyebrow when she heard that. "I thought you did that already."
"No. I told Disaster he was okay and he was to keep an eye on him. I also bribed him. I didn't introduce him as a friend. It's different."
The mage shook her head, remembering how her own introduction had involved staring the horse in the eyes and then offering him a potato. "Well it's up to you."
Mijinji snorted. "I didn't say we're keeping him. I said if things don't blow over by the time we leave, we'll get the boy somewhere safe."
"Name's Nasud," the boy muttered.
As Clessa and Vergon dropped into a discussion about the difference between being introduced people and being told about them, Mijinji sent up a prayer to Maishi. He could already tell that whatever happened, his patience was going to be put to the test.