Takes place sometime during the beginning of the first chapter of my story....
Tessa: (motions for her guest to sit in one of the soft chairs before the fireplace; the young man before her looks at the chair as if not quite sure what to do, but finally sits down right on the edge of the seat) Nice to meet you, Merle. I've been looking forward to this for some time now.
Merle: (he bows to me, a courtier's move with a cute little flourish) Uhm...thank you. Nice to meet you, too, ma'am.
T: (smiling at him) Took you long enough to come by.
M: (bobs his head down, won't meet T's eyes) Sorry, ma'am.
T: (waves a hand through the air) Don't worry about it. You're here now. So tell me, Merle, what are you up to at the moment?
M: Nothing, ma'am.
T: That can't be right. I know for a fact that you won the last arena match, and quite handily, too.
M: Yes, ma'am.
M: (stays silent, staring at his sandaled feet)
T: Come on, talk to me! Tell me something. Anything.
M: Uhm... I didn't mean to win.
T: You didn't? But surely that's the point of these fights, to see who's the best? To find the champion?
M: Yea...but my master said not to. Not to win, that is. (ruefully shakes his head) Don't know why I did it. He sure wasn't happy with me, after. (looks dejected now)
T: Why did he not want you to win?
M: It was money, I think.
M: I've been champion for almost a year now. The bets run high in the arena.
T: You think he bet against you? But you belong to him...surely your winning would have been good for him? Increased your value?
M: Yea...I guess he would have won a lot more if that Feran had won.
T: And now he's mad at you, because you lost him that bet?
M: Yes ma'am. That's what he told me. Said I'd have to bring him a fortune at auction to even his books.
T: So you're going up at the next auction?
M: Yes ma'am. (he looks away again, after finally having met T's eyes for a very brief second)
T: You'd prefer to stay with your current master?
M: (he looks at T then, and there is something...pain? perhaps hope?...in his storm-grey eyes) I just want to...belong...to... stay somewhere. (he looks away again) Anywhere.