Dino and Balentine in the New World

Dino made his way through the jungle outside of Eldermont, with a large red-headed man by his side.  This companion was a large-framed man, not fat and not muscular.  Just large.  His hands looked large enough to cover a man's face, and touch finger-tips on the back of his head.  He had red hair and a beard, both of which he cut short, showing a number of deep scars on his scalp, as well as his face.  Dino asked, "How much farther?"

The man laughed.  "Well, if we go too far we'll fall right off this big rock."  He glanced over at Dino, who was neither laughing nor smiling.  "Just a bit farther.  About a 50 yards ahead."

Mitchell Balentine - Loan-Shark, Petty Crime, Organized Fighting

The two men walked into a man-made clearing in the jungle.   The rich earth was packed solid and flat, and inside the circular clearing was a smaller circle made of rope strung between wooden posts.  This inner ring was about 20 feet in diameter.  Dino stopped and regarded the clearing and all it had to offer.  "How much coin did you pull down on a average fight night, Balentine?"

The large man smiled.  "Plenty.  People love to see a good fight.  The sight and smell of blood...."

Dino interrupted.  "I'm well aware of what people like.  I asked you a question.  How much did you make on an average night?"

Balentine smiled.  "And I answered your question.  Plenty.  Slaves were cheap, even after our King outlawed their trade."  Balentine spun in place, his arms outstretched, "And there's not much overhead in chopping down a little clearing in the jungle.  I made plenty."

Dino nodded, resigned now that he wasn't going to get a specific amount out of Michell Balentine.  Dino ran a hand through his short dark hair, pushing back his hood.  He thought he could smell the blood that lay just beneath the soil.  The lifeblood of many men, spilled here for other's entertainment.  It was much like the blood-soaked sand of the Grand Colosseum in Paralo.

Michell seemed nervous about the silence between them.  "Will it do?  Will it serve your purpose?"

Dino looked up, like a man waking from a dream.  "Um...yes.  This is perfect.  Exactly what I need."

"So, you're going to train your Dogs here?  Give them a little bit of the gladiator training?"

"Wolves.  I'm retiring the title of Dog.  The King's elite troops and bodyguards will now be known as Wolves."

Dino - One of the Heroes of Eldermont

Balentine smiled.  "Dino's Wolves.  Its good to put your own mark on things.  Mongrel's been gone for a bit now.  I like the sound of it."

Dino completed his circuit around the inner ring, and stood in front of Mitchell Balentine.  "I'm conscripting you into the Wolves.  Drafting you."

All the humor faded from Balentine's face.  "What the fuck?"

Dino continued.  "No slaves, means no more fights.  No fights, no profit.  I mean...that's the reason you're turning over the fighting ring in the first place.  And loan-sharking?  It is a new world here.  Do you really thing playing at the fringes, and being a bottom-feeder is going to be profitable here."  On his final word, Dino pointed at the gray void with its colorful bands of light that now made up their sky.

Balentine looked upward into the void, and seemed to get lost there for a few moments.  When he looked back at Dino, his anger was gone.  "Do you really think the Big Man is going to let me be part of his elite guard?  Guarding his family?  His friends?"

Dino laughed.  "No one's forgotten your bravery during the Forlorn attack on Eldermont.  As for your nefarious reputation...that's practically a requirement for the job.  The King will have no problem with it...though, that doesn't matter.  I pick my Wolves.  And I'm picking you."

Balentine smirked.  "So, you're picturing me as second in command, I'm guessing."

"Fuck no.  You start at the bottom.  You have to earn your way up, Balentine.  Show your worth. Prove yourself.  Its all up to you."

Balentine nodded.  "Yeah.  I'm in."