Here is our first encounter between the people who would become the series’ power couple. Their romance would stay right at the heart of it for most of its run and outlast or outshine any others. And it’s about as far from “love at first sight” as we could make it. She doesn’t even notice him. He looks at her and sees nothing more than the potential for a quick buck, a potential he has to pass up until he’s sold his current wares.

The reader would have no reason to suspect them as a future couple more than any other heterosexual pairing at this stage, and I’m not sure we did either. In fact, the early material more often paired Byron with Frigg (the fighters) and Syr’Nj with Gravedust (the thinkers), and Best will catch the eye of both female adventurers who travel with him. But it was clear that we were going to get the group together by the end of this chapter, so it was probably good that the plot had some near misses like this one and Best-Bandit to keep y’all guessing.

In name and appearance, Tignos is a nod to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, though to be honest, the real Tim Gunn would probably be repulsed by the idea of hawking just one monochromatic raw material instead of the craft of high fashion. Still, we make the best of the jobs available to us. And I wanted my imagination to have a fingerhold on him if we ended up using him again, and “planting” a source of real-life inspiration in him is one way to do that.