You forget, brother, that this is not the first fight I’ve followed you to.

Your friends are a motley group of people, following you through the back end of Mestra; their reasons for being here as varied as their dress. Excitement, exploration, new experiences. The challenge, the Pride, the Loyalty.

My own reasons are too many, too erratic to pin down. I wish I could. It meant I had someone to talk to. But I follow. Always following.

The brawl commences. I take on who I need to, and I make them regret underestimating me. Then I pull back a moment to watch, I assist where a moment’s distraction means the difference between a bone-breaking blow and a stinging one. Whether it’s the dress, or that I’m not seen as a challenge, it would be difficult to say. You gave me my first lessons in brawling, dear brother, but I’ve had to learn much, much more since then. I’ve had to learn patience. I’ve had to learn all the things even you refused to teach me. I know where to aim, and I know when to fight, and I know how important it is to win.

And now, with the taste of liao still in the back of my throat, I know where to look. The others fight for the thrill of a brawl. I fight to never be captured again. You fight… In you, I can see the raw edge of savagery. Brutality. I see, and know, that when you aim a punch you’re not doing it to win the fight, you’re inflicting the maximum damage you possibly can. You want this to hurt. I look hard, and see beyond the mask, beyond you. In that moment I think I fully understand why you are fighting. Why you don’t want me here. In that moment, my decision is made, though it frightens me.

You forget, brother, that this is not the first fight I’ve followed you to.

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