“The Brotherhood is a family,” said Velo. “Blood ties make up some of it, but more than that we are a family of our own design, of our own choosing. Family to us means something, Shandolin. We live and die for family. Family is who we say it is, and there are times we take in those with a strong sense of loyalty and nowhere else to go. There are times one of us builds a family of her own and we are faced with whether the family of our family is family to us all. There are—”
“And what do you decide?” Shandolin asked.
Rivna’s face whipped over, but Shandolin stared hard at Velo. Velo, for his part, seemed at a temporary loss for words. He stared back at Shandolin, eyebrows raised, his hand floating in the air mid-gesture. The look on his face spoke volumes: this scrawny bitch comes in here and interrupts me in my own home?
But Doe had already done it, and there nothing for her to do now but show him her strength. Velo blinked. He lowered his hand.
“The decision,” he said with a slight frostiness in his voice, “does seem to change depending on the behavior of the person in question.”
Damn Lolo’s advice; I’m going for the jugular. They should appreciate that, this lot of assassins, Doe thought. She leaned forward and fixed Velo with a cold glare. She felt the contempt pour off her in waves.
“Fine, bide your time here. Do what you will. Seems to me your mind’s made up and there’s naught I can say to change it.” Doe locked eyes with Velo. “Let me ask you this, though, when the City turns sour, will you run? Run from it, like you ran from the southern forests? And if you run, where do you think you’re going to go? You’d have to tramp back through the forests to get to the seas, if you wanted to turn pirate. The Empire won’t have you. The lands to the south won’t have you. You all, you’re like me, this is your last stop, this is the very last livable place left. And they’re trying to take it from me, and if they do, they’ll turn around and take it from you, too. Then where’s your family, Velo?”