Challenge #02075-E251: Safe Hide

When I first met you, I feared you, for I had heard the rumours and they weren’t pretty.

Then I got to know you. Your compassion saved me, your sympathy broke me, and your songs put me back together again, strange and misshapen but whole once again.

And now, after all that we’ve been through? Well, there’s no one I’d rather have by my side, friend. -- Anon Guest

First impressions are a son of a bitch, sometimes. When one gets the moniker of "the Merciless" tacked on to one's name, certain expectations about. You know the ones. Black leather. An easy hand with a weapon designed to inflict pain rather than kill. A mountain fastness full of minions and an optional beautiful daughter. That sort of stuff.

You never expect a shining Paladin whose chosen deity is the Goddess of life and creation. And I certainly never expected to meet him in his worst moment. Nor had I expected to meet him in mine.

He was battered, bloody, and captive. Our pack leader thought to ransom him for much gold, and then kill him. And the people who showed up to pay it. I thought that was a recipe for inevitable failure, but that's why I was having my worst day. Gnolls are famous for having low intelligence scores. Less than stellar wisdom. They are the toadies and expendable stupid guards of the world. Not me. I thought about things. I asked questions. Too many questions.

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