“Agree. Or don’t. You have to be agreeing to it, Taslin, you know that. They can’t force you to take a Patronage.”
“But they can make my life very difficult if I do not. They can make everything unpleasant. They can lean on the owners of the pit. They can Patronize someone else and encourage them to hurt me, or just hire people to attack me.”
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Intriguing! I hope you don’t mind if I mention what looks like a copy/paste error? The following paragraphs appear twice in succession: Slowly, he smiled. “Yes, yes you are.” Once again, it looked like he was talking to someone other than her. Taslin would take it. “Do you want to negotiate things like gifts, then?” Oh. Oh, no. “No.” She shook her head. “Gifts are just that, gifts. As you said. There’s a couple things that are in the standard contract – it says you provide my clothing, my armor, and my lodging, but those can be pretty much anything, down to and including a bedroll, a standard-issue tunic and a leather cuirass.” “Though that wouldn’t make me look that good.” “True.” She plucked at the silk of her tunic. “This, this makes you look plenty good.” “It makes you look very good, too.” “Thank you.” She ducked her head and tried to hide a grin. He liked it. That was good. She didn’t want him to be disappointed. “Ahem. Negotiations are more often things like, like… the amount of time you want to see me away from the pit, the damage you will or won’t do to me, the medical care you’ll pay for if I’m injured.” Taslin held her breath while that sunk in. That could go well, that could go really poorly, that could miss him altogether…
Thanks! And double thanks for putting it here.