Then there is Valhart. A man who never grown past being a schoolyard bully. He used his position to make others miserable for his enjoyment. And I’m sure you wonder why someone like him made it in the order? He was good at talking. Making it seem like those younger than him were, in fact, lesser than him. It didn’t help that Kellas turned a blind eye or made excuses for his actions. So, I was treated with disrespect for being young. When he learned I was neth, I was trash. And I let him get to me. He became that shadow that something nasty is following you. And if you let it engulf you, it’s too late to act.
The rain tapered off, leaving behind fog that clung to the ground. A small drass beast could easily stalk them. Without Mien’s ability to sense drass beasts, they were vulnerable to an attack. His purpose was to give them warning from them by feeling their corrupted timbre. However, all he had was his sight to gleam something through the white shroud.
He started humming to himself to make himself feel a little better. And without even realizing it, he started moving his lip and filled the silence with the sound of his own voice. He wasn’t saying words, just vague low syllables. His ears were glad for it. It gave him purpose other than sitting on his horse lamenting their situation.
“Mien,” snapped Tyrus.
Mien was slapped out of his singing and regarded Tyrus. The young man was giving him a dirty look.
“I don’t want to hear your moaning. Tits, it sounds like we’re in a funeral match.”
Soletus twisted on his saddle, looking behind him and said with a slight smile, “Exaggerating much?”
“What else would ya call it? Sounds like he’s preparing us to be eaten by some beastie.”
Mien opened his mouth and started on a hymn.
Tyrus interrupted. “This ain’t a church service either.”
Mien was prickled by his pickiness and then chose on a rather silly children’s song about an ermine and a dancing snow hare on a frozen lake.
“Thank you,” said Tyrus and turned around, humming along with his singing. That irritated Mien even more. He thought the young man would protest at such a childish and outrageous tune. However, Mien had to admit he liked it. His sister taught him the song and considered it the first song he learned. He sang it often to himself as a child when Nerva wasn’t around. She reminded him of the hare, and it kept him from getting lonely.
One day, he was singing it in their nursery while playing with his blocks. His father had stopped in the doorway to listen to him. He noticed him right about when he was going to repeat the song for a third time. His father was grinning ear to ear, thoroughly amused and found it delightful. Mien was embarrassed at being caught singing it. After that, his father encouraged him to sing to party goers and he would always hide behind him.
“You’ve a delightful voice,” he told him repeatedly. However, Mien didn’t want to sing in front of others. It made him too nervous. However, when he was ten, his father brought him a lovely silver leaf flute and started him on lessons. It went poorly.
His first teacher was constantly at odds with him. He found reading sheet music annoying and restricting that he had to follow some crusty page. However, he would listen to what his teacher would play on her flute and mimic note from note or even create something himself. She walked out on him when he added his own embellishments to a song. His next teacher, a young woman not even in her fifth decade, was nicer and intrigued by his talent. She encouraged him to learn songs by ear and provided sheet music as a reference point. She even let him create his own melodies and practice them.
Mien wouldn’t have minded his flute then. He didn’t carry it with him on missions, though. He wondered if it wouldn’t hurt to ask his mother for a traveler’s flute. The flute his sister got for him was a lot like the one his father gave him. The same amount of love came with it, and he didn’t want to lose it.
Mien sung a few more songs that he knew of happier ones. Even snuck in a hymn that Tyrus couldn’t complain about. Then Soletus pulled off the road and said that he was going to stop and wait for Doran. Since they were no longer moving, fatigue sat heavily on Mien. His eyelids felt as if they had boulder attached to them. His head sank down with his chin nearly touching his chest and then he became alert again from his horse moving under him. He scrubbed his face with his hands and clapped his cheeks. It helped for an instant but, exhaustion finally won. His eyelids drooped and he let out a snore that brought him back awake, or so he thought. He found himself back in the field. The sky was no longer painted with reds and oranges and was now inky dotted with stars. He heard that the wind as just air as a warm breeze breathes stirred the grass.
He felt someone rest their hand on his shoulder.
Mien rolled to his back, saw nothing, and then one more time to his other side and found the older version of himself mirroring his position and yawning. He was starting to hate seeing that face. He flung himself into a sitting position.
“So, you’re here to erase more of my memories?”
“I’m not,” he answered. “It’s just a side effect. Don’t worry, there’s nothing worth remembering.”
“What’s the point of you?”
“Glad you finally asked. I’m your guide. My purpose is to aid you during your edict phrase.”
“But I did figure it out! It’s the phrase of protection,” declared Mien.
His guide swayed his head. “You learned the name and used it in an act of desperation. That doesn’t mean you learned it.”
Mien tilted his head. “Wait! When did I use it? That doesn’t even make sense.”
The guide rolled on his back and his gaze went to the stars. “Singing the phrase isn’t enough, you know that. While other phrases are given to you, an edict phrase is different. You need to learn why it was given to you. What purpose it has. You can’t just call on it.”
Mien ran his hands through his hair tugging it upwards, leaving his hair puffy. “Fine, I get that, but you just said I used it. When did I use it?”
“In an act of desperation to save them,” answered his guide.
The young chanter covered his face and moaned. “Can you be anymore vague.”
His guide traced a constellation with his finger in the air while speaking. “You’ll learn what happened when you need to learn it. Then you understand why you need to learn this without that memory.”
“Okay, fine then. Be that way. Why can’t you just, I don’t know, teach me how to use the phrase?”
His guide game him a smug lopsided grin. “I’m not that sort of guide.”
Mien hoped he didn’t look like that to everyone. That smirk was infuriating.
“The answer is very simple. You just need to do some self-reflecting.”
Mien hated self-reflection. He never liked what he saw.
His guide then frowned. “You need to stop not liking who you are. You’ll forever be afraid of the world around you judging you. Dias needs you; such a thing is a distraction. As your actions need to be based on the truth, not what the world wants.”
“That’s not exactly easy.”
His guide looked at him with understanding. “Life doesn’t exist with just comfort and ease. There are hardships, sorrow, and death. But there is always light peering out in the ink of night.”
Mien looked up at the sky and then thought he heard the voice on the wind again. This time, it was a little closer. The whisper sounding like a plea of help.
“What’s that? I know you can hear it,” he demanded.
“What you hear is something you need to prepare for. Don’t worry, you will soon understand,” he said and pointed to the horizon. “Look, the sun is rising.”
With that, Mien eyes flew open to sunlight bathing the moss in front of him. He blinked hard and fought off his blanket, confused. Panic threatened to choke him. Instead of letting it take him, he set himself to look for familiar things. There was an oiled leather tarp supplied by the order stretched above his head. Their packs neatly tucked behind him. He saw the horse he had been riding tethered to a tree and saddle off her back. What wasn’t familiar were the yellowing trees around him that created a golden carpet beyond the moss. Clearly, this was his band’s campsite.
He pulled in a slow breath and exhaled. There was no reason for his anxiety and he was glad no one was around to see him. Then another worry popped in his mind. Where was everyone? It was unlike Soletus not to leave someone in camp that was alert and awake. He crawled out into the sun light, and stood to his feet without the sluggishness. He tested his grip and it felt stronger. However, the world still sounded a bit muffled. He was about to test and see if he could make a sun globe when he heard something crashing towards him from the woods.
Mien instinctively stooped back under the tarp and held his breath to listen. It was a horse from the sound of it and then Doran burst through. There was something very wrong with the acting scout. Sweat pouring down his face and beggar’s ticks and cockleburs clinging to his clothing. He also had an arrow going through his biceps.
“We need leave,” said Doran, leaning forward on his saddle. “Cole found me and has been following me.”
Mien started to search the trees and strained his hearing to listen for someone else coming through the brush. “How far away is he?”
“Far enough for us to get out of here,” said Doran, climbing down from his saddle. “Can you heal?”
“No,” said Mien, inspected his arm. “All I can do is tie it off. We need a safe spot so I can look at it.”
Doran bobbed his head, looking ill. “We need to get the others.”
Mien summoned his consort, Glen. The air beside him began to shimmer, and it took shape into the form of a mountain lion. The large tawny cat greeted him by rubbing his body against his legs and nearly toppled him over.
“Glen,” snapped Mien. He did it to everyone, even complete strangers whom he liked. The magical creature soon understood the seriousness of the situation and sat on his haunches like a dog. He then told the consort aloud. “Go find Soletus and Tyrus and bring them to us.”
The mountain lion bounded into the woods. Mien could feel the consort moving away from him as if a tether was slipping through his hands. It was part of the ability Glen gave him. He had hoped for something fun, like Kiao and Emmery. However, his was rather banal. The two of them could be some distance apart, unlike most who had a distant limit. Mien felt no strain on his mind, with Glen being far apart. One day, Oeric tested out how far they could be apart. They end up being a mile apart. Even at that range, Mien couldn’t say he felt any pulling. However, it was draining.
Glen didn’t search long. The consort gave him indication that Soletus and Tyrus were following him.
“What happened,” demanded Soletus as he jogged out of the woods with Tyrus in tow.
Doran held his arm as Mien tied a tourniquet around it.
“I scouted back like you told me and followed the riverbank,” explained Doran breathlessly. “I run into Cole halfway to the main road. Then I run off to the road and crossed it to force him to chase me so not to bring him back to camp. When I thought I lost him, he shot me.”
“Why would he do that,” exclaimed Tyrus while he speed through pulling up camp with Soletus dancing around each other.
Doran shrugged and then grimaced. “To slow me down or force me to come back here. That raven of his is following me. Strike spotted him several times.”
Mien looked around and didn’t see the small shrike that was his consort around him.
“I had to recall him. This was getting to me,” he explained, indicating to his arm.
The last thing they needed was for Kellas to catch up with them.
Soletus scrubbed out the spot where they had their fire with his foot. “We need to put distance between him and find a place to cross the river up north. We can’t wait any longer for the water to slow down here.”
Tyrus rode and Soletus led, jogging. Mien wasn’t tired before, but those few miles down the road made exhaustion he hadn’t felt all day come back. Doran wasn’t doing well either. The constant jostling of riding with an arrow in the arm was slowing him down. It didn’t stop him from searching for a new spot shielded out of a bird’s eye view.
They found it in an abandoned sod hut. Off the road, away from the river. The Sod house was half carved into the hillside and only had a bit of tattered cloth for a door, There was a small shed in the back where they put the horses. They stripped them of most of the gear that would identify them as brotherhood and brought it inside. There wasn’t much space but it was enough to make them comfortable. Soletus started making a fire and Tyrus helped Mien. He took a gander at Doran’s arm and whistled.
“This wound needs to be cleaned and kept clean until Mien can deal with it,” he said.
Doran had settled down against a wall in a back corner. Mien was digging in his satchel for his knife, needle, and stitching thread.
“It’ll be a few more days until I can heal. However, I can still yank that arrow out.”
Doran’s face became ashen. “Yank it!”
“Well, it can’t stay in there,” said Mien.
Tyrus patted Doran’s chest. “Settle down. At least he doesn’t have to dig it out.”
“What if it hit a vein or something?”
“Then you’ll bleed out,” said Tyrus.
Mien grimaced and sighed. “You’re as reassuring as a bonfire next to a mound of hay.”
Tyrus shrugged. “It’s the truth.”
“Well, the less worried he is about bleeding out, the easier my job will be. I want him relaxed when I pull that arrow out.”
Doran let out a moan.
“We’ll talk to take your mind off of it,” said Tyrus. “So, where you from?”
Doran rolled his eyes. “You know Shrike has been part of the Brotherhood since the dawn of it. Where do you think I’m from?”
“Well, I’m a Woodquill and we’ve been part of the land everywhere, I guess, so I don’t know who’s been part of what since the dawn of it.”
“You had to take a Brotherhood history class.”
“I did and it was the perfect class to nap,” explained Tyrus shamelessly.
Doran sighed. “Most of my predecessors have given a single son to the Brotherhood and all of them have been priest. Most of my family lives northwest of Grace’s Hope. They run a chapel and orphanage there as well as see partly to the defenses of the town of Wateree. My uncle, Halvus’Shrike is the mayor there. He was a warden before he became mayor.”
“Ah. So, you aren’t like Sol over there who’s had multiple generations being Brotherhood.”
Doran glanced in Soletus' direction. “No, Soletus' family history is different.”
“Yeah, Sheldmartin men have mostly been monks,” said Soletus. “If there is a priest there, it was after they finished serving.”
Doran then asked Tyrus, “Why are you in the Brotherhood?
“It’s a good wage,” he answered.
“The best motivation to be in the Brotherhood,” retorted Soletus.
“It’s better than farming on salt like my Pa. A lot of my pay gets sent home because he’s too stubborn to do anything else,” explained Tyrus.
Soletus arched a brow at him. “If it's coin you want, the army pays more.”
“The army isn’t safe. The Brotherhood are exempt from fighting in wars and if you’ve not noticed, we’ve a Heron as king. They love them some war.”
There hadn’t been a war yet, but there was potential for it. There was a lot of illegal trade pouring in from the human kingdom of The Sunder Lands or as the humans called it, Sutherland. No one wanted a war with the humans as much as they wanted them to change their laws, making slavery of all kinds illegal. Then there were the giants who were growing restless again. Their new warchief was ordering attacks on vulnerable villages and small towns by the borders as well.
Tyrus then added. “Aside from that, I get a roof over my head and food in my belly. Not to mention the Brotherhood is more accepting of half-elves than where I am from and the army.”
Both Soletus and Mien regarded each other, stunned, and said at the same time, “Half-elf?”
Tyrus exhaled and said, “Yeah, I’m a quarter human.”
There wasn’t a single human feature on him from his pointed ears to his moss-colored eyes. He was lithe, like most elven men. In fact, Soletus struck a more human build than Tyrus because he was part Dyne. The only claim to being was his hair. It was warm bronze that one shade darker could be considered brown if someone was picky.
Soletus was the first to recover from that statement. “I didn’t know.”
“Well, it ain’t something I tell. Kinda like how you don’t go around sharing about how you’re neth and all.”
Soletus stirred the food in the pot. “Understandable.”
Mien looked between them, both bewildered. “Sol, why does he know?”
“Oh, yeah, you don’t remember. Valhart blabbed it to the entire band,” he explained.
Tyrus then declared. “Well, I don’t care. As far as I see it’s less competition with the ladies.”
Soletus looked over his shoulder. “And you need all the advantages you can get.”
“And I’ll take every bit of it.”
“So, who was the half-elf? Your father,” asked Doran.
Mien could feel him calming down.
“Nope, my Ma. I wish I could see her one more time. After my youngest sister didn’t need her, she left.”
He shrugged. “Dunno. She just up and run away, leaving my father to take care of me and my brothers and sisters alone.”
Soletus quirked an eyebrow. “Brothers and sisters?”
“Yeah, there’s seven of us in all.”
Mien was still shocked that she had six children. He imagined she would have the same issues that elven women did. They could only give birth to two or three children. Some only one.
“And your mother, she had you seven one after another,” questioned Mien.
“For the most part. I’m her youngest son.”
Soletus grimaced. “That’s way too many siblings.”
“Tits, you know what? I think it’s strange that everyone else has single a sibling 10 or more years apart. I grew up with a sister who was a year older than me, and we played together a lot.”
“I’m glad I wasn’t the only one,” said Mien.
Tyrus gave Mien a curious look. “Are you a twin?”
Mien nodded. “I’ve a twin sister.”
Tyrus’s interest piqued. “So, what’s she like? What does she do?”
Mien bristled at his interest. “She’s lives in Erodon and goes to the university there.”
“Nice,” said Tyrus, considering something.
Mien glowered at him.
“Why you given me the stink eye?”
“He does that with everyone,” said Soletus. “Overprotective brother.”
Tyrus laughed. “Oh, come on. If she looked like a female version of you, I’m sure she’s very pretty.”
Mien's expression darkened. While Tyrus gave him a goofy grin in response.
“You know, she probably has a lad or two she likes to flirt with.”
“And they better not be around her if I come visit her,” he told him.
“Would you care if they were half-elf,” asked Tyrus curiously.
“Why would I care about something like that?”
Tyrus brow rose in surprise. “Well, because nobles get offended by the thought of anything having a drop of human blood.”
“My family employs a lot of half-elves at our mines and stoneworks. Heck, half the indoor staff at the estate are half-elves. They’re people too.”
The only reason Mien wouldn’t want his sister to marry one was life span. Tyrus potentially wouldn’t live as long as an elf. However, that was something for his sister to decide if love was worth spending half a lifetime with someone.
Doran shifted, getting Mien’s attention. “I don’t think you’re going to bleed out, but you won’t be able to use your arm.”
Mien held up a piece of wood for him to bite down on.
Doran nodded his head. “Just get it over with.”
The process was quick. He sawed off the arrowhead with his knife and pulled the shaft out of Doran’s arm. The young man kicked and let out a muffled scream. That was the easy part. The hard part was the stitching. Mien hadn’t done a whole lot of it. Most wanted to be magically healed as it was mostly painless. Kiao had him do it at every opportunity because he couldn’t do a lot of healing. However, it clearly wasn’t enough. Mien didn’t think his work would impress a physician, but it closed the wound.
Doran curled up restlessly. Soletus finished cooking. He ladled food into their bowls. Mien was starving and was eager for anything. and would even probably eat Brother Hickory’s burnt meals. However, when he took his spoonful, he was greeted with was bland cloudy water. Even with the most meager ingredients, Tyrus managed to make anything taste good. Soletus just made their scant supplies edible. However, Mien's stomach felt like an empty cavern and he sucked all down regardless it tasting like nothing. Doran’s ate some trying to use his good arm, but opted to roll his back to them after a while. Soletus ate a few spoonfuls between stirring his meal around before he dumped it in Mien’s bowl.
“I’m done. I’ll watch first tonight. Then you can Tyrus. Also, you’re riding.”
The half-elf smiled and said between slurps of his meal. “Good, I can sleep in my saddle tomorrow.”
Mien glanced down at the contents of his bowl that was nearly spilling out.
“You need the food more than me. I’ve padding,” explained Soletus, patting his stomach.
Concern nestles in the young chanter’s chest. Once again, he heard that off note in his friend’s voice. It might’ve appeared that his friend was trying to help him gain his abilities back faster. However, Mien knew better. There was something wrong but chose not to confront him on it and let it go. Soletus then described his plan for the next day. However, Mien fell out right as he talked about how they were going to set-up the watch cycle that night.
He didn’t have a visitation from his guide that night. In fact, he slept a very black night. In fact, he remembered falling asleep and then being woken up someone squeezing his shoulder over and over again. Mien parted his eyes lids wishing that the feeling of being woken up was just a mirage. However, he felt Soletus pat his back when he saw him awake.
“It’s time to get going,” he said.
Mien peered in the blue gloom out the window of the hut. It wasn’t even sunrise. He rubbed his face. “Why we’re leaving so early?”
Doran yawned out, “’Cause Soletus doesn’t believe in sleep,”
“Yep, he’s a pure strictarain,” said Tyrus with a yawn.
Soletus gave Tyrus a flat stare. “That’s not a real word.”
“That’s something a strictarian would say.”
Mien then heard something rustle and then saw an object fly into Tryus’s and bowled him over.
“Oww! Stop trying to kill me! What you keep in this pack, rocks.”
“Yeah, and I’m giving them to you so you can fill your empty skull.”
Tyrus flung it back at him. Soletus caught it in the air. “You’re proving my point with your cruel words and actions.”
“Quit whining and get the horses ready,” ordered Soletus, without a drop of seriousness in his voice.
“Yes Master. As you wish, Master,” said Tyrus, bowing and pulled the tattered leather aside as an arrow whizzed by his head. The half-elf dropped to the ground and crawled to the side of the doorway. His ashen face, eyes locked on the where the arrow was buried.
“Hey lads,” shouted Cole. “I thought we could have a little chat before you go.”
Mien’s blood ran cold.
Doran scooted into the shadows. “Dammit, I thought we lost him.”
Soletus scurried to the side if the door where Tyrus was. He stood and peered out by rolling his head to see him. “What do you want, Cole?”
“It not what I want, it’s what you need. I may have accidentally impeded one of your own yesterday. Hard to travel with one man down, ‘specially your scout.”
“We’ll manage,” said Soletus. He pointed to Doran’s bow and quiver.
“You know, Kellas is willing to talk things through. He specifically wanted me to explain that.”
“He didn’t want to talk things through when Valhart knocked Mien in the head!”
“That was an accident and time was of the essence. Don’t worry about the past. You three need to worry about his offer.”
Mien scooted into the deeper shadows of the hut. He doesn’t know I’m still alive.
Doran tossed Soletus his bow, followed by his quiver. The young monk pulled an arrow out, saying,
“And what is this offer,” shouted Soletus.
“Kellas can keep everyone from finding out your neth if you agree to his terms.”
Soletus let out a snort. “Is he’s going to sow Valhart’s mouth shut?”
“No, call it a compromise. We forget you disobeyed orders. And you forget we went into the gorge. Lyndon and Mien were unfortunately swept down river when the bridge went out. That is the story Kellas is willing to tell.”
Soletus notched his arrow. “You want me to lie about my cousin’s death in my uncle’s and aunt’s face? That’s not a compromise!”
“Others will benefit from this compromise. What about Doran and Tyrus? Scouting in this band is Doran’s last chance. He’s about to be relieved of duty for being unfit. Being accused of insubordination will ruin him.”
Mien glanced at Doran.
“And Tyrus,” continued Cole. “He’ll lose the most from insubordination. He’s got a home, a job, and things that half-elf like him don’t normally get. Being disciplined means no longer being able to go on missions. And no missions mean no pay. It will hurt his family.”
Tyrus eyes widened with his jaws slacked. He tried to move around Soletus. The young monk held him back with his arm.
“Think about it. All of you can maintain everything you want: secrecy, legacy, and job security if you come back with me. I apologize for shooting Doran but, I needed to get your attention.”
Mien watched as Doran and Tyrus bowed their head for a moment, shaking it. And then their faces tightened. Doran shook his head and stared at Soletus sharply. Tyrus had a deep frown on his face. They clearly didn’t agree with those terms.
Soletus eased the string the bow back. “The lads and I don’t accept.”
“Boy, don’t be rash,” snapped Cole. “Think about this. What are you going to tell them when you get home? It’s your word against Kellas’, so who do you think they are going to believe?”
“Tell Kellas to shove it,” he shouted and spun out, aiming the bow and shot upwards. Cole cried out in pain at the same time something fell into the grass with an audible thump.”
Tyrus jumped and grabbed Soletus by the shoulders and shock him. “What did you do?”
“I shot his consort. Get the horses, we’re leaving,” ordered Soletus coolly.
Mien stood to his feet. “Sol, you can’t do that.”
Soletus whirled on him. “I just did. It’ll keep him from following us.”
“But there are drass beasts around here. They could find him and kill him.”
“Well, he should’ve thought about that before shooting Doran,” said Soletus on exiting the hut.
Mien stood in front of him. “Sol, you could’ve handled that differently.”
The young man then bore his voice down on him. “List me my options in any order you like.”
Mien stared at him mutely. Not because of his words but, the way he spoke.
Soletus moved around him. “That’s what I thought. Get on your horse.”
Mien felt irritation creeping from the edge of his mind and then it washed over the astonishment at what he witnessed and felt. The anger didn’t start off as his, but it inflated the frustration he felt even more.
“Why are you acting like a bastard,” he snapped.
Soletus stopped and regarded him. “I’m not fighting you.”
Mien’s eyes flickered gold. “I don‘t want to fight. What I want is for you to get your head from out of your rear.”
Soletus tried to stand over him. “I’m not doing this.”
Mien met his gaze. He squelched down any discomfort it caused. He wasn’t going to back down. His friend was being irrational again.
“And you just shot someone’s consort,” he held. “That’s the act of a bastard.”
Soletus threw his arms in the air. “Then he shouldn’t come here, acting like we could be bought!”
Mien then forced his voice at him. I came out sharp like a sudden gust wind forcing everything from grass to tree to bow to it. “So, what!” Soletus flinched. “I don’t care if he tried to sell you your own piss as spring water in a bucket. You should be better than him. You should be better than Valhart!”
Mien watched his friend bristle with his fist balling up.
He smirked and said in his normal speaking voice. “Get hot all you want, you know I’m right. If you don’t think I am, then hit me and get it over with or are you done being a brainless brute?”
Mien never believed the day would come where he was at receiving end of one of Soletus’s chilled stares. Where his river-colored eyes turned frozen and treacherous. However, the worse thing he could do was back down, he stood his ground. Soletus’s gaze flickered over at Cole’s body sprawled out on his back and then to where his consort had fallen. Only a wing was poking up from the brush and it was now a transparent blue. Soletus took a deep breath like he remembered to breathe. He stepped away from Mien, deflating.
“Get Cole, find his horse and tuck them both inside,” he said. “Cover him and the entrance. Use hickory trees and juniper. That should mask his scent as quick as you can.”
That sound reasonable and Tyrus and Doran did as he said. Mien lingered. He walked to Soletus and patter his shoulder.
“I know he angered you–”
Soletus rolled his shoulder. “I don’t need you to console me. I need you get help and hurry this alone. We need to get back before they do. The quicker we can, sooner we can tell the truth.”
I've seen betters games of Deal or No Deal.