Until Dawn

Flynn sits in the Tavern alone, until he is called to sit with Precious and Rajah from the dice game. They talk, and Flynn excuses himself to say hello to some of the Merienberg Salle, whom he feels bad for silently passing on his way in. They are rowdy and silly, and he moves on to speak to two elves he has encountered before. The high elf is tall and resplendent in his armour, flowing golden locks, proud and noble. The she-elf is of the woods, quiet and beautiful, vines and flowers in her hair, thoughtful and enchanting. They look every bit the immortals they are playing. The tavern closes and they all leave.

Flynn and Izkander make their last delivery of Quest in the Shisha Den, the lair of the infamous Desert Rose.

They duck through the opening of the tent and the place is packed, probably booked out by a warband or a large group of friends. Nobody recognises them. Flynn calls out to the room "Excuse me, we're looking for Sarah". She pipes up and takes delivery. Flynn spots the woman playing the Desert Rose and chats for a bit. She is friendly and welcoming, and the two are asked to stay for a while. Flynn offers to share drinks in return. He leaves, and returns with a bottle of port, a pack of chocolate truffes, and two small crystal glasses. He pours port, takes it to the Desert Rose's player and says "I believe I promised to share a drink". They sip the liquor.
"Mm, that's good"
"It's a ten year old oak aged tawny. I'd tell you more of the details... if I remembered them". She chuckles.

Flynn sits near Izkander, both a little tipsy. The Rose's player leads the room in a bawdy song about bestiality. The whole room sings and laughs. Izkander, throws out a funny verse off the cuff and the room sings it, laughing.

Flynn gets up for some reason, maybe to compliment a man on his wresting in the fighting pits the previous night. It had been a good show. When he returns, somebody has taken Flynn's seat. He finds a spot at the edge of the room, out of the way. A man stands in front of him, looks at him awkwardly and says "You can take my seat on the ground". Flynn says "I can't sit on the ground in these pants". He watches while the man conspicuously stares at them, then looks up and retorts "That sounds like a personal problem".
Flynn says "Perhaps I'll find a seat over here".
The man sings a song from that spot. He had intended for it to be a stage.

Izkander has made some more contributions to the room. Flynn feels that they are wearing out their welcome as new guests in a room full of people who don't know them. He collects Izkander, thanks the Desert Rose for having them, and begs their leave.

Flynn and Izkander meet Lemon, Mord, Salem, Yuki, Sir Sigsmund, Linden, and Captain Brodier at the Dawn Blades camp. Later they are joined by Ivo and Zhan.

They share beer with the Dawn Blades, the Dawn Blades share sherry. Flynn shows them the technique known as the Surge, discovered by Anthony's brother, useful for making a lady swoon - best used on somebody who is expecting something to happen, but isn't sure what. Several of the men swoon as he shows them.

They all talk of their experiences in Sudenberg. They have been on the battlefield today and they talk of battle. On the invitation of the Dawn Blades, Steve had played a screaming, growling shade for the final battle, the only one that he and Anthony had had time to attend. The shade was in torn black robes, hood, and mask, and carried an enormous sword. It was truly terrifying.

The shade took great delight in making grown men shit themselves, and in fact had jump-scared Lady Catherine to tears earlier that day (for which Steve felt terrible), however the best part of being the shade was seeing what might appear to have been unlikely heroes stare it down with ferocity and utter fearlessness. One in particular, a smallish and very sweet girl, had even taunted it while she hunted it. Courage and valour often can't be measured by size or strength.

The others tell war stories too, of pushing the line, and the chant starts around the camp fire: "Forward - Unto Dawn!".

They sing together. Captain Brodier sings a march. It moves Flynn to see Brodier march back and forth as he sings. They all sing Halleluiah together, because between them they know the words.

Flynn sings for them too, a haunting song from the western deserts, of cactus thorns and mountain cats.

They sing songs of Araby, of Arabyan nights. Izkander sings too, he has a lovely voice though he practices little. Sir Sigsmund starts them off on a song of training to defend Cathay from huns, and they all join in.

The new Baron Bernhard and Lady Catherine shoot at them from their tent, telling them to be quiet so they can sleep. They all have a big day tomorrow but nobody wants to leave the fire, so they quiet down and share more stories.

Flynn talks of proving oneself. How one should expect to have to provide proof of one's abilities before gaining true respect. Once proof is offered, the respect is earned. He talks of how one gains confidence from competence, but how confidence can be faked, so he seeks to prove himself in ways that cannot be faked. It is his essential nature, almost his defining characteristic, that at every moment he is absolutely and constantly prepared to prove himself, and that this is what seems to terrify or provoke men he meets without him even meaning to. His very presence is a challenge.

He tells Yuki he admires him for his noble seppuku and alchemical abilities, for his impeccable moral character. Having fought in friendly duels, he also knows Yuki is an excellent swordsman.

Yuki tells him of his journey to Sudenberg.

Izkander tells them of his hunt on the Maharaja's lands, of denying the Maharaja the prized white tiger pelt he coveted that Izkander had hunted, and of stealing the Maharaja's Asp. Flynn has heard this story many times and is sick of it - he thinks the story is too long how Izkander tells it.

Sir Sigsmund decides to retell the story of the Maharaja's tiger from the perspective of the exiled Izkander. Off the cuff, he invents whole new details, tells jokes, and weaves a wonderfully detailed story that has them all in stitches. He tells a few more stories and the rest sit and listen, enchanted. He explains that to tell a good story, one must be in the moment, as the story happens.

Flynn tells them how he lost his eye, but following Sir Sigsmund's stories is hard work, and Flynn is more a man of action than words.

Eventually they realise they have drunk, chanted, sung, and spoken very nearly until dawn.

Flynn returns to his camp, in love with his new companions.