"There's three rules you got to remember about livin' Down Below" Morgan began. "First an' foremost is that you can't trust anyone but your Kin. There's too many con artists and thieves down here for you to ever let your guard down and they don't think twice about killing you to help them get ahead. An' if you want to be able to trust your Kin, you got to back them up and look out for them - you NEVER sell out your Blood, no matter what they do or say. You got to stick together or you die, simple as that."

Jadek nodded. "We stick up for our families back home, too." As he said it, he looked away and sighed. "Back home..."

"Nothin' to do about it now, lad." Morgan lifted his tankard, stared at it sadly and caught the bartender's eye. As the fat man turned to fetch another bottle, he continued. "For better or worse, this is home now." Jadek sighed again and shook his head as if to dislodge the wistful memories of his old life. The bartender loomed over and set down a dark bottle next to Morgan's empty vessel. Knocking the cap off on the edge of the table, the old man went on.

"So if you can't trust anyone round here, it makes sense not to let anyone see your hand, as it were." Morgan poured the pale brown liquid and Jadek's brow creased in confusion. He opened his mouth to speak, but Morgan got there first. "Not a gambling man, then?" he laughed. "Don't worry - you will be soon enough. What I meant was that you should never show all your cards, never let people see what you're really made of. If you let them know you they'll use it to trick you better, so keep all your cards close to your chest and only let 'em see what you want 'em to see." Seeing that Jadek understood, Morgan raised his battered mug to his lips and gulped down a little more. "That's rule two" he said, sitting back and rubbing the bridge of his nose with his surprisingly clean fingers.


When Morgan had said nothing for a few moments, Jadek spoke up. "So what's rule three?" he asked, eager to hear more. "You're going to laugh at this one, kid." Morgan replied with a grim smile. Before Jadek could ask why, he went on. "Rule three. Never, ever go anywhere by yourself. Always go round with at least two other guys watching your back, 'cause one guy on his own is easy pickings." Jadek nodded in whole hearted agreement and looked archly towards the door where Gordo and his thugs had left after Morgan…

Morgan saw the young Van Saar's brow crease and as Jadek turned to speak he held up a hand to silence the boy. "Yeah, I know what you're thinking" he said. "I aint got nobody covering my back an' I seem to be doin' alright. Just trust me on this - do as I say, not as I do. I had to go it alone an' I made it, but there's thousands like me who didn't" He reached for his drink and raised it to his lips. "So what happ…" Jadek began, but he stopped and drew back in trepidation when Morgans face suddenly darkened. After a tense moment, Morgan looked away and closed his eyes. "Relax, kid. It aint your fault." He drained the last of his wildsnake. "Just don't ask, that's all." The sound of the metal tankard clanging down onto the bare metal table said that the subject was, quite definitely, closed.

"What kind of a piece are you carrying, kid?" Morgan asked, changing the subject. Jadek, though, just looked confused, until Morgan mimed drawing a gun and aimed the imaginary weapon at the boy's forehead. As realisation dawned, Morgan repeated the question, but Jadek shook his head. "I don't have anything like that, sorry. All I have is a knife I took from the kitchen before we came downhive. We didn't think we'd need to be very heavily armed, but I guess we were wrong…" Morgan laughed, not his usual cynical snort but a genuinely happy sound. "Damn straight you were wrong, kid! I wish you'd been right, but the world just aint that nice a place I'm afraid." Jadek looked downcast. "Don't worry, kid - so long as you don't want anything too fancy, guns cost a whole heap less down here. Just make sure you get yourself something reliable and easy to load, else you'll get into all kinds of trouble. Don't worry if it don't blow chunks out of your practice range - people go down pretty easy when you plug 'em, however big they look."

Jadek glanced at his wrist. "I'll have to set off for home soon. They close the gates in an hour" he said. Morgan nodded, paused and then turned to face the boy with a look of surprise on his face. "You not living in town then?" Jadek shook his head slowly. "We found a place next to some big fan, sir. It's not far, really…" Morgan stifled a laugh and cut in. "You came here from outside on your own? You must be goddamn blessed, kid!" Jadek shrugged. "I didn't know it was so dangerous." Morgan was shaking his head in disbelief. "You aint trying that trick twice, kid, not if I've said I'm lookin' out for you. Either I walks with you or you stop here 'till your family comes looking for you, unless you got some secret weapon I don't know about... Damn!"

Morgan sighed heavily. "Okay, kid. We're going. It isn't fair on your folks to let them think somethin's happened to you and I don't have the cash to keep you 'till they come round so…" The old man stood up, retrieved his hat from it's impromptu peg behind him and walked over to the bar to retrieve his weaponry, carefully checking each gun before secreting it about his person. "If we're going, you'll have to be armed, too, or you'll just be a liability if we get attacked. Here, take this" he handed Jadek a small revolver. "You just point and shoot, simple. You can fire a few shots before we get out of sight of the walls to get used to it, too - don't want you messing up when it counts."