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But then, as suddenly as it had started, the hostility stopped. It was as if Andrew’s face had automatically switched back to being jocular but benevolent again, smiling understandingly at Kevin as if the last couple of minutes had never even happened. Even Mark had to blink, but then dismissed it from his mind. After all, Andrew was a mate really.

I’d just worked really hard at building up that character, I thought I’d finally cracked it, and now this happens,” Kevin finished lamely.

Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, Kevin”, Andrew was finally ready to speak, “but you know it’s not you, it’s your characters, there is a difference.”

OK, that was patronising, even Mark could see that, but he didn’t like to intervene. And besides, if anyone else got involved it would escalate, and they’d never do anything else all night. He didn’t know what the rights or wrongs of it were, and didn’t particularly care much. He helped himself to another handful of crisps, since no-one else seemed to be eating them, and settled down to consider his own character’s strategy while he was waiting to get on with it. So much for having to think fast.

Well, why then?” Kevin was demanding of Andrew.

Look, of course it’s not a personal vendetta, that’s just petty. I’m just trying to get across to all the players a sense of how powerful this dragon is - it’s been around for centuries, it’s not just got brute strength behind it, but cunning, magical powers, the lot ……” He looked around the table, meeting the other players’ eyes in turn. “What I mean is, it’s not going to take just one character alone to defeat it.”

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