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Benny's was a fairly large pub. It had many tables situated in the L shaped floor area which was open to the customers.

The tables located along the walls had screens attached to the backs of their benches in order to provide some privacy and noise cancellation to the people sitting at them.

In one particular corner of the pub, sitting at one of these tables were two men. These two men both had an unkempt appearance and had been enjoying their drinks. This however, all changed when Tom and Avery got up to get a new set of drinks.

Because of the shape of the pub and the places the two groups were sitting, Tom and these two men were out of sight of each other. The two men could see the table Tom was sitting at, they could see and hear the boisterous laughter and conversation that had been going on throughout the night, no thanks to Pike, and they could see the stream of drinks going back and forth from the table to the bar. However, it just so happened, because of where he was sat, that Tom was out of their sight.

When Tom and Avery went up to collect a new set of drinks, Tom finally came into the field of view of these two men.

While Tom was standing at the front of the bar, one of the two men, who had shoulder length shaggy black hair and a short beard, caught sight of him. This man quieted down as he felt his gaze drawn towards Tom. He couldn't quite put his finger on it but there was something about the man he was looking at that had attracted his attention.

A look of confusion appeared on his face as he was looking at Tom. After a short while, the man had a flash of recognition and he went wide eyed in shock, quickly perking up, with colour draining from his face.

"Oi, what's wrong with you?" said the other man.

In response to this, the bearded man discreetly pointed towards the bar where Tom was standing. The man sitting opposite him looked over but didn't understand what the bearded man was pointing at.

"What?" the other man asked quizzically.

"The redhead waitress? What'd you do for that reaction?" he asked not understanding what the bearded man had meant.

The bearded man had no choice but to lean forward speak to the other man under his breath.

"Not the damn waitress you idiot, the man, the bloody man at the bar"

Looking back towards Tom and Avery and still not getting it, the other man asked

"What about him? You piss him off or something?"

"You fool, don't you recognise him" the bearded man said, the irritation in his voice clear.

"No. Who is he?" the other man asked.

"He's from that night" the bearded man said.

The other man couldn't help but shake his head at this.

"You're going to have to give me more to go on than that"

"The night 3 months ago" said the bearded man, mistakenly raising his voice a bit in frustration at his companion's ineptness.

Hearing this, the other man directed his gaze towards Tom and Avery again. He wasn't even sure which of the two men the bearded man was talking about but after those words something had finally clicked in his brain. He stared at Tom and came to a slow recognition of what the bearded man meant.

When he realised the situation, he too showed shock and confusion. He turned towards the bearded man and said "How is that possible?"

"I don't know" the bearded man said under his breath again.

"But we have to tell the boss"

"Can't we just jump him? If we do that it won't be a problem. We won't even have to tell the boss... I mean, if he finds out, he's going to be pissed. Actually, do we even need to do anything at all? It's been 3 months already and nothing's happened. It might be fine" reasoned the second man.

"Don't be a bloody idiot" the bearded man said annoyed.

He couldn't believe how stupid the other man was being.

"Even if nothing has happened so far, it doesn't mean nothing will happen. If he's alive then it can still come back to us. And what do you mean jump him? Can't you see everyone he's with over there? When the fuck would we have the chance to jump him?"

"Come on. When, when would we have the chance? He's surrounded by people at the moment and I'll bet your arse that while he's in the city he's always gonna be surrounded by people"

"Fine then" the other man said.

"So are we going to inform the boss now?"

"You're going to inform the boss" the bearded man instructed.

"I'm going to stay here and keep an eye on him. Seriously, use your fucking brain for once. If he leaves without his group then I'll be able to jump him"

"But you just said-"

"I know what I fucking said. I'm just saying, just in case. No move your arse and get a move on. This is important" said the bearded man angrily, interrupting the other man.

With that, their conversation ended and the second man got up and left the pub while the bearded man stayed behind and continued to watch Tom from the side-lines. When Tom went to sit down again and was out of the bearded man's sight, the bearded man got up and moved to sit on a stool at the bar. This way, he was able to keep Tom in his sight and if Tom got up to leave he would know and would be able to follow him.

Both of the men had been shocked to see Tom, a man they had known to be dead, still alive. The first time they saw him was just over 3 months ago when they had attacked a small group of people travelling at night. It was quite a memorable night for the bearded man because the people they had attacked belonged to the Cardinal clan's estate and it had caused them no end of trouble ever since.

Seeing Tom, here and now, made the bearded man very concerned. He and his group had many members that operated from within Hill city. This wasn't a problem because they were very careful when it came to hiding themselves and their tracks. They'd been getting away with it for years and had never been caught, but now, a man, a member of the Cardinal clan no less, had seen several of their faces and miraculously lived to tell the tale. He would be able to pin any of the faces of those present that night as criminals and completely upturn their operation. This was something they definitely had to tell their boss about.

It was unfortunate for them that they hadn't known that there was a survivor from that night. Although Tom had caused quite a scene by coming to the city gate at night covered in blood, the bandits hadn't heard about this. Of course, there was an uproar the next day when the Cardinal clan started mobilising their forces, but the story of Tom at the city gates was only shared between those who had been on duty that night. In fact, had it not been for the fact that everyone was so focused on the death of Paul Cardinal and gossiping about the Cardinal clan's reaction, it's likely that the story of Tom would have been the one to make its way through the rumour mill. In this way, the bandits own actions had overshadowed and concealed this piece of information that was of import to them. This, coupled with the fact that Tom hadn't left the clan's estate since arriving there, meant that the bandits didn't learn about his survival.

Thinking about the possible repercussions of the man before him still being alive, the bearded man kept his gaze focused on Tom.

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jmj1011995

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