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I’m no expert in machines, but even I knew something was wrong with the way the ‘hog was bouncing as it drove slowly through the Bazaar.  I hazarded a guess.  “Bad shocks,” I told the black leather-clad driver, pointing at his bike.  “You’ll want those looked at.”

He smirked at me as he leaned back in his seat – a goblin grin, his stringy black hair falling into sexy green eyes that glittered with mischief.  He was about to say something else when another elf walked up beside him, tall and fit and handsome.  “New friend, Reanai?” the other asked, eyeing me with a smirk.  Then the smirk broadened into a smile, and he held out his hand to me.  “Bareris. General Bareris Darksworne, actually, at your service.”

We passed a pleasant few hours chatting, my new friends and I.  Reanai and I discussed our bikes, and the various dials and buttons that neither of us precisely understood, and we traded information on mechanics.  Bareris expressed his envy at not owning such a fine machine of his own, and being compelled to allow his lady friend to drive him everywhere.  Before the day was done I met said lady friend: Aestiah Firestorm, a ranger of bold bearing and red hair to fit her name and spirit, and for all his flirting with me it was immediately evident that Bareris was quite feverishly in love with her.  All three were possessed of quick wits and cheerful demeanors, and the banter flowed fast and free.  All in all a very enjoyable time.

Aestiah was compelled to depart first, and I not long after.  Before I departed, Bareris took my hand and kissed it, and with a sparkle in his smile made me the most lurid promise of how we should pass the next afternoon we spent together — his lady willing, of course.  I laughed it off.  Meaningless words were spoken of ‘doing lunch sometime’ and whatnot, and I bid he and Reanai farewell, fully expecting to never see either again.

I did actually see them from time to time, in passing, in the city, though I did not think much of it.  Some weeks later I overheard some Bazaar gossipmongers tittering about Bareris Darksworne having been in a black state ‘ever since Aestiah dumped his ass’.  I briefly thought of the paladin I’d met that day, with his brilliant smile and affection shining from his eyes, and I felt a strange stab of sorrow on his behalf.  When I saw him in the Bazaar a week later, and it was evident even from a distance that he was but a shadow of his former self… something in me was saddened by it.  I did not approach him.  I knew he was unlikely to remember me, anyway… though I did notice that he had acquired the machine he had so coveted.

I knew Goredis was waiting for me; we had a meeting to attend.  He had joined some new organization, calling themselves ‘The Will of Dath’remar’, and I was suspicious of their motives.  I did not afford Bareris a second glance as I started up my own bike, and drove away.

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