What happened to the half-breed? Well, nobody in this world could answer the question accurately, but simply said, his magic core was gone. The crystal that most beings in this world have, was no longer within the half-trolls body. This was beyond simple sundering, without a magic core people die. However, the pale green man survived and what’s more, he seemed to be recuperating just fine.
Nobody in this realm knew much about molecular chemistry or biology, the wouldn’t understand if you tried to explain to them how the big crystal in Amaran’s heart turned into tiny, impossible to see with a naked eye particles, which then spread through his bloodstream. During normal sundering, the crystal would simply split once or twice, to be repaired afterwards. You simply increase the surface are of the crystal to allow it to grow faster. Without having an extremely high amount of mana, you can’t make the mana density of the core higher, so growing outward is the only way to increase it’s size.
This is the reason that the monster mages are mostly despised, they go through sundering and suddenly they have more power than they had before. For anybody else, it would take months if not years to achieve the same feat. Days and weeks of continues spell casting, exhausting and recharging your core to make the newly accumulated mana form into crystal structure that is mana core.
Normal mages tried to create similar methods as sundering, but they were rarely successful. Trying to increase the surface area of the core by applying some shocks or concoctions to it, would produce results, but people would die from pain or mana poisoning. Using potions to heal faster or detoxify the person, the person would then go insane from the pain or kill themselves in the process to escape.
It was only fortunate that Amaran was a monster, his physique was unique and allowed him to survive the ordeal. And it is thanks to the two wards that restrained him that his mana core did not break down into energy and poisoned him, instead being pulverized into tiny little particles still able to conduct mana, but not concentrated in one place. Amaran was truly lucky at that point.
So, what happened with his mana core? Well, the best analogy would be to imagine it as a coral. Those things release their spores, which float around until they find a suitable place to settle down and grow. While mana core was not really alive, it still grew when it absorbed mana from the surrounding. With his mana core turned into dust, his own blood became a medium for mana, making him a liquid conduit for magic.
It would be good with any mage who practiced magic, but for Amaran it didn’t prove particularly useful, as he didn’t know any magic and was not around anybody who did. Truthfully, if there were bursts of mana around Amaran at a time, the crystals inside him would grow quickly and turn into tiny shards, which could possibly cut him from the inside. His body could conduct impossibly large quantities of magic, but he would surely be cut up from the inside while doing so.
Instead, his mana core dust absorbed whatever little mana there was. After the fight, the huge amount of mana was almost entirely used up to free him from the ward, so whatever little was leftover, it was an inconsiderable amount. Healers, they used complex magic, but it required little mana to heal his wounds. He only had some internal injuries, which were closed with a few simple spells. So while this jump-started the crystallization process, the result was just tiny little crystals that were too small to hurt him. If anything, they easily passed through most membranes in the body, going inside Amaran’s brain, muscles and even getting to the bones.
With the process starting and the core crystals growing slightly, the began to settle down all around the body. The crystals would bind to some tissue and begin absorbing the energy from the environment. The process was slow due to lack of mana around the half-breed and due to him having a large quantity of core dust in his bloodstream. His core was huge for any normal person.
What did this mean for Amaran? His body now had tiny crystals, that were extremely hard and durable, capable of conducting a lot of mana and flexible enough as to not harm the heart in which core usually resided, these crystals were attaching themselves all around his body and imbuing into his flesh.
This was a unique process. Mages didn’t know a way to pulverize the cores without letting them turn into energy, so they couldn’t repeat it. The best they could do was to split the crystal into chunks, but that would prove dangerous if inserted into the bloodstream.
The process took about a week to settle, when most of the flesh has these crystals spread around it evenly. There were plenty of crystals still left in his bloodstream, but the majority of them had already settled.
A week after the fight with Minas, Amaran regained consciousness. When his mind surfaced from the depths of darkness, he didn’t move much. He simply laid there, taking in his surroundings.
In the past week, not only his insides changed, but his look did also. His skin now seemed to shine slightly, the light reflecting off of it with an alluring glow. His eyes became shiny green, like looking at a husk of a chitinous bug, having a slightly purple hue if looking at the right angle. The transformations made Amaran, who was somewhat attractive with his strong body and above average looks, even more handsome. While before women were repulsed by him looking like a troll, right now his appearance was even more dazzling and would probably make them forget about that fact.
Which was exactly what happened. When Amaran came to, he felt a foreign feeling, a feeling that shouldn’t have been there. Well, not truly foreign, as he felt it many times when he woke up after spending night with a woman. But now, after he slept a week in an infirmary, his body still slightly in pain, being caressed by a gentle hand, it made him question the reality of the situation.
Surely, nobody would take advantage of his unconscious body, making love to him in his condition. How would his ’tool’ even work in his state? While Amaran thought about the very important mysteries of this world, the hand continued to caress his naked chest.
Whoever that had belonged to, she still didn’t notice that the man on the bed had awoken. Amaran decided to first of all study the surrounding to try and understand the situation. He listened to the sounds, took in the air slowly and tried deciphering whatever his senses told him.
Surprisingly, his senses told him many things. Things that they usually missed or stayed quiet about. For some reason, the half-breed felt much more than he ever did. Firstly, he felt the smell of the infirmary, many medical aromas from medicines and smells of blood. Nothing too unfamiliar, but they were sharper and deeper than ever before. It was like he turned into Hamorok.
He however also felt other smells, the smells that accompanied a woman. She had a fruity smell of perfume, something that ladies used to entice the men. There was also smell of her hair, clean and fresh. A fragrance of her skin, a womanly smell that was arousing to men, a smell of naked flesh that had some beads of sweat on it. The arena was a warm place, especially in the infirmary, no wonder she was sweating. But that was not all, by feeling clearly her fast heartbeat and by hearing her shallow and quick breaths, it was obvious she not sweating because of temperature.
In the air, there was a smell of arousal. Amaran was very familiar with that smell, he himself caused it many times and tasted it on his tongue. It was such a delicate fragrance, usually masked by other smells, it was always there when a woman longed for him. To the half-breed, it was obvious where the smell came from, but he wondered why? It was unusual for somebody whom he didn’t know to have such reaction and he was sure he didn’t know the person near him.
The girl set to his right, her head on his stomach, her left hand caressing his muscly chest and her right hand somewhere else. Feeling the vibration of the girls body, Amaran felt her shuddering from time to time, in tune with her short breaths and even quiet moans. Well, we now know the mystery of the girl and the act that she was doing.
Still, why would a girl touch herself over the sight of him? Usually they disliked him. And why didn’t he take advantage of this? The question appeared in his mind and his eyes opened wide. The girl didn’t notice it yet, but the man she was resting on was fully awake and now getting aroused. He didn’t notice it at first, but by studying the girl, his own arousal reached a peak.
With his eyes darting around, he quickly looked at the girl. Her face was turned to him, but covered with her hand somewhat, which was touching his chest. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open and making slight sounds. She was feeling pretty good as evident from her drooling over Amaran.
While the girl didn’t notice him, the half-breed studied her. She was wearing a maid uniform, an unusual attire for the pits. Why would a maid be in his room within the infirmary? From her looks, she was a demi-human, more precisely a half nymph. Her appearance spoke of her plant-like origin, her skin having a little waxy look, like that of a lush leaf. Her hair also had the same look and seemed to be thicker than usual and slightly denser. They looked like tiny grass blades or vines, rather than hair. She had an overall green hue to her skin added to the normal human skin color.
The fruity smell was not a perfume, but her own smell! She was a slave, and slaves don’t get such luxuries. But the smell was alluring nonetheless, Amaran thought that the smell was exactly for the purpose of enticing him, involuntarily released due to the girls ’activity’. He wanted to give in actually.
While studying the girl, he felt a shock run through her, as her body shuddered more than before and her breaths becoming deeper, until she stopped moving and relaxed. She stayed like that for a minute, with a smile on her lips. Then she opened her eyes and met Amaran’s gaze.
While looking into the girls dark green eyes, Amaran saw panic, but he didn’t want the girl to escape. Quickly, quicker than ever before he moved, ignoring slight pain his body felt. He sprung up, picking the girl by her waist and lifting her off the chair she sat on, bringing her on top of him. Before she realized what happened, he had already assaulted her lips, sticking his tongue in her mouth and caressed her chest in return.
Her cheeks turned red, but she didn’t resist. Instead, she closed her eyes and gave in to the sweet sensation and to the dream she had for a while now. The good-looking man she was thinking about so much previously, he was the sole target of her fantasies. His unnatural shine and attractive body, they made her overlook his monster origin. Now, she was willing to give in to the man, hoping to feel him inside her.
While Amaran kissed the girl and touched her sizable bosom through the uniform, his erection poked the girl from below. He was used to having sex everyday before, so himself being asleep for a week, the stress accumulated over time. Now he needed release.
He parted with her lips and instead took her right hand, which was still moist, and licked the fingers slowly. He felt the taste of sweet nectar and his arousal only grew. The girl turned even darker shade of red, seeing his bold actions.
Amaran needed it right there and then, he was about to start undressing her, but the sound of the door opening stopped him. The girl, scared, she jumped off the bed and stood beside it. She wildly straightened out her clothes as to make herself presentable and looked at Amaran. He was still half sitting, his erection poking out, only covered by the covers. The girl panics more, seeing this as it was outrageous for her mistress to see such a provocative sight.
“Mistress, wait just a moment. The man has awoken, but he is naked and unprepared to face you.” The girl was moving around, trying to find some clothes. Without seeing anything of a sort, she just tries covering the half-troll’s erection with her hands, which amuses Amaran.
“What are you talking about? It’s not like I haven’t seen naked men before, I have brothers you know.”
“Milady, please don’t make me say it. You are not supposed to know of such things, your innocence should still be intact. Please don’t expose yourself to the crude image of a naked monster!”
This exchange amuses Amaran, his face showing a wide grin. There is no malice in that expression, only pure joy as he is about to get a chance to make love to two girls! That should satisfy him.
“Oh forget it, I want to see him…”
“Forgive me, could you wait a moment? I will get the half-breed ready to see you.”
The voice of Amaran’s master cooled him down. He didn’t dislike the man, but in this situation his presence was very unwelcome. The man walks through the doorway to discover Amaran sitting on his bed, with a slight smile and a girl with her hands on his crotch.
“Ah, busy I see. Well, your reputation has to come from somewhere?”
At these words the girl closes her face with her hands and looks away. Amaran just looks at his master, waiting. The man walks to a cupboard at the other end of the small room and brings out some clothes. They looked rather cheap, but presentable.
Amaran stands up in all his naked glory and the maid is able to see him now. Unobscured by the the blankets, the sight of the naked men makes her eyes go wide and her cheeks bypass the limits of how red they can become. She gasps for air and tries to calm herself down. She must still be rather innocent, despite of the display earlier.
The half-breed puts on the clothes his master offered to him and stands, ready to talk to the mistress of the maid.
“Thank you master.”
“I am not your master anymore. You are a free man.” The man says these words with some sadness in his voice. “Milady, you can come now, the man is ready to see you.”
After those words a young woman comes in, wearing a beautiful dress and having the look of royalty. She looks amazing, breathtaking even. Amaran shows a wide smile and has a light in his eyes, happy to see such a beauty come to meet him.
“Forgive me for making you wait milady. This lowly slave doesn’t deserve to be in your presence.”
“Stop it, Amaran. I told you, you have no master now, you are free. The young mistress is Princess Floria, daughter of the king. She was the one who attended the fight a week ago.”
“A week ago?”
“Ah yes, you must not know this, but you were asleep for a week. Princess Floria wanted to visit you, it is a nice coincidence that you woke up.”
“Yes, I wanted to see how the winner of the fight was doing. I must say, I was surprised to see the conclusion of the fight, you were the last mans standing. So, I have granted you freedom by the power of the royal family.”
“The last man? What about Grum and Hamorok?”
“Lad, sadly Grum didn’t survive. We had to attend to you and Hamorok first because of your grave injuries. He bled to death and we weren’t able to use magic on him because of the seal. We were able to save Hamorok, but he is crippled now. The healer reattached the lower half of the body, so the most important part is intact, but he won’t be able to fight ever again.” The man had a sad smirk on his face as he said it. He was still a person, even if he lost two of his best slaves, he still thought of them as people.
“Then, what will happen to him? Is he going to be ok?”
“I don’t know now. Right now he is being tended to, but when he gets well enough… I don’t keep the slaves that can’t fight and there isn’t much for him to do out there. He is just a crippled dog now.”
These words made both men frown. Half-breed’s previously happy expression changed to a serious one. Amaran didn’t want for the wolfman to end like that. At best he is going to starve out in the streets, at worst, some sick person will take him in for torture or worse…
Amaran thought for a moment and then turned to the people in front of him.
“I guess now that I am free and I have won the fight, there must be some kind of prize?”
“Yes, it was decided to grant you a sum of twenty gold. My father had to pay a hefty sum for the loss of slaves, but since you are alive, I can give that money to you instead.”
“Don’t. As it is my right, I trade my freedom for the freedom of Hamorok and I give him the prize. It should be enough to buy a small house and get him some aid.” The man looked at the maid beside him, as to make a point of what kind of aid he meant. A person to tend to the man, to feed him and clothe him, that is what the wolfman would need now.
Everybody looked at the half-troll in shock.
“Boy, why would you give away your freedom? You are free and rich now, you can go and do whatever it is you want. Go, find yourself a wife and make bunch of little Amaran Juniors. Be an adventurer or become a guard. The world is open for you.”
“Yes, why would you to this? The other man, he is ruined, his life is over now…”
“Yes! It is over for him, his only passion taken away. Hamorok told me how he loved fighting. I won’t let him die on the streets after what had happened to him. I will take his passion and add it to mine. I will fight for both of us now.” Amaran spoke harshly, not minding that it was a princess he spoke with. His tone was angry, furious at the words the princess had spoken.
“But think about it, you don’t have to give away your freedom and your money. You can purchase Hamorok when you get out. You can get both of you out.”
“Yes, I wanted to take you as my knight, to make you my bodyguard. You would have anything a man would want, money, house, women…”
“But why would I need those things out there when I have them here? Master gives me the place to live, I earn money and I get plenty of women here. Besides, what am I to do out there. I know nothing of that world, born a slave and living a slave. I love fighting and I want to keep on doing it. For both of us…”
Amaran said the last words with a pained expression. He clearly didn’t want to leave Hamorok in the state that he was. It was partially his fault for letting that wolf get cut up. He could have been the one to engage the cat boy, then the wolf man would have been fine. It was an irrational thought, but it still felt right to Amaran.
He moved away from the people, wanting to walk outside. His eyes were moist, so he wanted to be alone, it was unmanly to cry in front of women.
“Hey, where are you going. You can’t discard my offer for some crippled dog! I am a princess…”
“And I don’t care. It is your fault this happened and now I have to bear the weight. Because I let Hamorok fight your champion alone, he is now left broken. You think yourself innocent, fine, but I will give him whatever he deserves.”
The girl was in shock. The half-breed spoke to her in such tone, he accused her of causing this situation. It wasn’t her fault! It was her father who made her come, made her participate in this farce. It was his idea to make her a part of this. It wasn’t her fault…
Amaran left the girl and his master chased after him, trying to make him apologize for speaking in such tone with the princess.
The girl slumped on the bed, tears rolling down her face. Why did she feel like that? She loved half-breeds, she tried treating them well in her castle. While her father supported the slavery, allowing it to happen freely, the girl wanted to free the people who were oppressed. She wanted to abolish such a vile practice, if not for her father, she would be able to…
The words of the half-troll made her shake to her core. Even a week ago she didn’t care about him and his friend, they were meant to die. She didn’t like it, but it was necessary. It was what had to be done. Wasn’t it?
The maid came closer and tried calming the princes, but she was unsuccessful. Floria cried and cried, confused by what she was feeling. At that moment in her mind her hypocrisy revealed itself. She believed herself to be a good person, fair to the slaves and half-breeds, yet she was willing to sacrifice some of them to appease the wish of her father. If she was truly good, she would be fighting against slavery in all its forms. She was a measly hypocrite, even wanting to abandon a slave that got hurt because of her on the streets. She was not a good person.
Like that, the girl cried and cried. She just now faced the reality, the Real reality of the world. She thought herself being good by treating a few slaves fairly, but in the world, there were many things that were bad. She was just a pompous child, thinking herself better than others. Now, simple words of a simple slave spoken freely, they stung her deeply. The princess that had never done any work in her life, she had never truly done anything worthwhile, she understood how little she did in her life. She saw herself for what she was and she vowed to change. She vowed to make herself a better person and to stop others playing with her. She would be a good princess.
She calmed down slowly, with a resolve born out of this weird situation. Few words spoken by somebody that should be unimportant, they uncovered the truth and showed it to her. Now, seeing it, the girl was willing to accept the truth and to change according to it. She would go home and do everything in her power to follow through with this new resolve.
Amaran wasn’t aware of whatever he set in motion. He quickly slipped through the corridors, wishing to stay alone. His decision was final, he wasn’t willing to change it. Hamorok deserved to be free instead of him. The man, he wasn’t even his friend, but he should be free. He felt guilty that he would continue fighting like that man wanted, but he knew it was for the best. Hamorok deserved better than what that princess left him with.
With his dark brooding, he wondered through the dark places of the pits, trying to stay hidden. Men don’t shed tears, that was a known fact. Men don’t get sad, that was an axiom. Amaran hid such an act, like he hid it before. Being a monster, he liked coming into the monster dens, to be amongst his brothers.
The half-breed always thought himself a monster, since his first conscious day. He was told so and he was treated as such. But he really believed it the day when he had to kill the girl he treasured. He saw it in her eyes, it was him or her. He resisted, he stalled, but in the end, he had to drive a blade through her heart. That day he was triumphant, but that day was the first time he came down into the darkness below the arena and wept.
Here, amongst the monsters, near the beasts that killed their brethren for sustenance, he wept, for he was like them. He killed the girl who was dear to him for survival. His heart was open and it closed, ensuring that he wouldn’t be hurt again. Every time since, he came here to keep the heart closed, to hide from the world that he was weak, that his heart ached for those he killed. Now he came here because another life was ruined. Ruined by him, because of him. There was nothing to fix it, but he could at least ease the suffering of the crippled man, while carrying his passion with him.
Amaran stayed within the darkness for a time. He wanted to be amongst monsters like him. His eyes dried, but his heart still ached. He would have to keep on fighting, for all of them who had died. He would be the best. He didn’t know why, he just knew he had to. What was his goal? He had none, only the will to keep going. It would have been more logical to take his freedom and flee, but he couldn’t do that. The struggle of those whom he killed would have been for naught. He didn’t know a way to escape this.
After some hours, Amaran felt another presence nearby. His senses were truly sharper than before, it was easy for him to hear a quiet breath of another person. This one however, he recognized, having heard it plenty of times before.
“Jaina, what are you doing here?”
The girl came forward and approached him.
“I heard what happened. You did a stupid thing.”
“I know. But I can’t leave Hamorok the way he is now. I can’t let him die on the streets. He was the one who let me win after all.”
The two stayed quiet after the short exchange. The girl came close and sat beside the half-troll, taking his hand and leaning against him. Their legs were hanging into a pit below, an empty pit containing only the some bones, devoid on any meat. A monster used to live here before.
Amaran calmed down now, he was now just sitting beside a girl and enjoying the closeness. He wanted to be alone, but now he felt like he wanted company. The girl was just the company he needed. The outburst before stifled his sexual urge, but his desire for companionship grew after he poured out his feelings within the darkness of the monster pits.
The girl knew why the half-breed came here. Everyone had their own place, their little fortress of solitude. She had one as well, although it was different.
“Who was she?” A simple question, somewhat vague, but he understood.
They both knew her. She was there before Amaran came and she was only slightly older. She and Jaina were friends when they met. They spent their training together and they were rather close. It was no miracle that Amaran fell for the girl, she was gorgeous as she was dangerous. Her mastery of a spear was great.
The girl never told Amaran, but she told Jaina, that the first time he had with her was also her first time. The half-breed girl was head over heels over Amaran just like he was for her. They actually took longer than most getting to that final stage. It’s ironic that they had to fight each other that day. If it weren’t her feelings for him, she would have cut him down and would have carried on. He knew that somewhere deep inside, but he denied it, not to make the pain any stronger.
“What about you?”
A man who died four years ago. He wasn’t killed by Jaina, he was killed by a challenger. His mastery over axes was impressive, he was quick and agile, but his aim was true. ’True Strike’ was his nickname, every hit would reach the target and bring him victory. Until that day…
Amaran knew the man, but they weren’t close, he was a little too arrogant. Perhaps his arrogance was his downfall. Now it didn’t matter. For both of them, their hearts were closed.
The two held onto each other, until Amaran began to move. He turned to the girl who was leaning onto him and took her face in his hands. Bringing it closer, he kissed her deeply, trying to wash away her own tears, which glistened slightly in an almost non existent light. If not for Amaran’s improved senses, he wouldn’t have seen it.
He brushed his thumbs on her cheeks and tried to comfort her. She happily replied to his show of affection, her cheeks turning red, which went almost unnoticed. She intertwined her tongue with his, exchanging saliva between them. Her hands were on the ground, she completely surrendered to the half-troll.
Slowly, his hands began to descend. Firstly they brushed her soft hair, then they went lower, touching her neck and shoulders. The movement was slow, sensual in nature. They weren’t looking for sex, but for companionship, so their exchange was trying to convey their feelings, their longing for one another. There was no Love, not the one with the capital letter, but perhaps there was something similar.
When the hand got down to the girls breasts, Amaran massaged them, taking in the sensation. Truthfully, he felt better than he ever felt. His senses of touch were greater then before, him easily feeling the nipples of the girl before him through the fabric. He could smell her fragrance, even the faintest parts of it. He enjoyed the new sensations, the depth of his perception was growing. It was magnificent.
After a bit, he began undressing the girl. Firstly, he removed the leather corset. The girl liked wearing it normally, as it made her look better. Untying the strings behind her back, the corset dropped on the ground.
Next, Amaran proceeded to take off her shirt, pulling it upwards and making her raise her arms. They separated for just a moment, only to unite in a passionate kiss again. Jaina didn’t lower he hands this time, instead she started undressing the man before her. His clothing was simple, so she quickly pulled his shirt off just like he did with hers. Again, a short separation and reunion of the lips.
They pressed their naked upper bodies against one another, their flesh longing for unity. They barely parted lips, now they hugged one another closely, his hands caressing her back, her little imperfections. She too held him close, as if afraid that he would disappear.
A few minutes passed like that, when Amaran pushed the girl on the ground. His one hand wondering back other breasts, his other holding her back. More minutes of kissing like that, until they both want more. Their hands searching for the laces that hold the pants of their partner, they undid the shackles that cages their bodies. Freeing the lower halves, they came together, ready to continue.
Their union was gentle, slow, methodical. They wanted to enjoy their bodies, the companionship. Amaran felt more depth to the sex than before, the stimulation being much greater than ever. He felt good and he made sure to make her feel good too.
With each touch, with each thrust, he could feel little shaking of her body, whether or not she liked it. Her breath would grow shallower, her body would respond to his touch. He enjoyed this new mastery over the female physique and he used it more and more.
Jaina felt great, Amaran was a great lover, but he never seemed to be this attentive before. He seemed to understand just what she wanted, so she too tried making him feel good. With a conscious effort, she tightened around him, making electricity go up to the top of his head.
This mutual pleasuring went on for tens of minutes, each one trying to outdo the other, until their very first climax. They began to move quickly, their hands holding each other close. With a slight moan, Jaina announced to the world that she reached the peak of the mount Pleasure and gladly plunged into the depth of climax.
Feeling the shudder of his partner, Amaran didn’t hold back, he too reached the same height and surrendered to the feeling. They reached climax together and held one another closer. Both of them with their eyes closed, they didn’t see what was happening, but Amaran, during his moment, he seemed grow slightly brighter in color. He didn’t glow or anything like that, but his skin seemed to become slightly less dark in waves, starting at the top of his head and along his spine and going away from them.
The two stayed together for longer, their sweaty bodies moving in unison, trying to make each other feel the feelings they lost before. The monsters were not heard at all, either being too far or not bothered about the sound of two people pleasuring one another. Only slight rattling of chains or the draft rolling through could be heard in between the moans.
They climaxed a number of times more before they felt too exhausted to go on. Well, it was Jaina who felt exhausted, Amaran felt he could go on even more, but he felt satisfied with his partner asking to stop once she had enough. His appetite was also satiated.
The two dressed each other, their lips still coming together from time to time. They were both dirty, from copulating on a dirty floor, so they would need a bath before sleeping.
They ascended from the dark monster pits holding each other close. They wanted the feeling to last a little longer. It wasn’t love, but something similar, that was what they thought.
When the time came for them to separate to wash before sleeping, they both held their hands, but didn’t let go. For a few moments they stayed awkwardly like that, but then Amaran pulled her close for another kiss. So, they stayed together while bathing. And while going to bed. They night they stayed together.