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The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 52 [#114]

As Simple As That

        Startled, [Ailhuin] touched her cheek, not seeming to know whether to look at the coins or at [Mat].  "Get them out, you say.  Just like that.  Out of the Stone."  Abruptly she stabbed him in the ribs with a finger as hard as a tree stub.  "You remind me of my husband, Mat Cauthon.  He was a headstrong fool who would sail into the teeth of a gale and laugh, too.  I could almost think you'll manage it."

Ailhuin and Mat, The Dragon Reborn, p. 527

    Emotions are infectious.  Confidence, despair, anger, for example, can rapidly spread through a team.  Mat's enthusiasm and relief at finding the location of Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene enables him to simplify his mission to "Get them out.  That's all I have to do."  It's an honest simplification; not a measure of brashness for the sake of showing off.  For Mat, it's the first step down the road of the impossible.

    Organizations facing change, or trying to implement change, need to take similar measures.  Confidence, enthusiasm, eagerness at the prospect of change and the possibilities the new path provides are infectious.  For leaders, always in the spotlight, it's important to remember this and recognize that the workforce responds to those subtle non-verbal and emotional cues.  Behind closed doors, disagreement with the direction or implementation is fine (in most cases, it's encouraged); but standing tall in front of the workforce requires a unified front with a positive message and some confident swagger.  Breaking the task into multiple smaller components is a way to develop that swagger in the workforce.  Over time, all those tiny steps take the organization a great deal farther than they originally believed.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 51 [#113]

'Til Shade Is Gone

    Juilin Sandar, the thieftaker hired by Nynaneve, Elayne and Egwene, is successful in finding Liandrin and the others.  Unfortunately, Liandrin got to him first, and sprung a trap on the three women.  Egwene, never once forgetting her torment at the hands of the Seanchan, fought until she was unconscious.  Elayne, gave a fair account of herself as well, despite the pampered upbringing of a Daughter-Heir.  Nynaeve fought until she crumpled; not quite unconscious, but close.  Then they kept fighting.

    Nynaeve ached to do something for Egwene, but she let herself be pushed out into the street.  She made them push her; it was a small way of fighting back, refusing to cooperate, but it was all she had at the moment.

Nynaeve, The Dragon Reborn, p. 519

    Bait? For what? For who?  "You are the fool, Liandrin!  Do you think we are here alone?  Only three of us, and not even full Aes Sedai?  We are bait, Liandrin.  And you have walked into the trap like a fat grouse."

    "Do not tell her that!"  Elayne said sharply, and Nynaeve blinked before she realized Elayne was helping her fabrication.  "If you let your anger get the best of you, you will tell them what they must not hear.  They must take us inside the Stone.  They must - "

    "Be quiet!" Nynaeve snapped.  "You are letting your tongue run away with you!"  Elayne managed to look abashed behind her bruises.  Let them chew on that, Nynaeve thought.

Nynaeve and Elayne, The Dragon Reborn, p. 520

    Sometimes plans fall apart completely.  Situations change, and sometimes the change is so drastic that the only option is to create a new set of options.  Failure is an integral part of learning.  Success is merely noted on the drive forward to keep the momentum going.  Pausing to reflect on the how and why behind the success is usually not done until the very end in the leaders' memoirs.  Failure, on the other hand, is studied from all facets to ensure it's not repeated on the next try.  And the key is to keep trying; to keep attacking. 

The Dragon Reborn - Chapters 49 & 50 [#112]

Leader Development: Loial

    While Mat makes short work of Gaebril's agent, Comar, Moiraine, Perrin, Faile, Lan and Loial arrive in Tear.  The Forsaken are hiding in plain sight amongst the rulers, first Illian, now in Tear.  

    "Be quiet," Moiraine told [Faile] sharply.  "One of the Forsaken in in Tear.  The High Lord Samon is Be'lal."  Perrin shivered.
    Loial squeezed his eyes shut and groaned.  "I could have remained in the stedding.  I would probably have been very happy, married, whoever my mother chose.  She is a fine woman, my mother, and she would not give me to a bad wife."  His ears seemed to have hidden themselves completely in his shaggy hair.
    "You can go back to Stedding Shangtai," Moiraine said.  "Leave now, if you wish.  I will not stop you."
    Loial opened one eye.  "I can go?"
    "If you wish," she said.
    "Oh."  He opened the other eye, and scratched his cheek with blunt fingers the size of sausages.  "I suppose ... I suppose ... if I have a choice ... that I will stay with all of you.  I have taken a great many notes, but not nearly enough to complete my book, and I would not like to leave Perrin, and Rand -"

Moiraine and Loial, The Dragon Reborn, p. 508 - 509

    At this point, Loial's moans whenever the situation turns dire are somewhat comical.  Yet, of Moiraine's companions, Loial is the only one to whom she gives the choice of leaving.  Perrin, Mat and Rand, are central to the effort against the Dark One.  Even Faile was forced to swear an oath to serve and obey Moiraine; and now Faile knows too much to fly free.  What is impressive, is that, despite the moans, groans and leaps into pessimism, Loial elects to stay.  When given the choice, he freely chooses to stay.  For his book, of course, is the outer shell of it; it seems he has strong sense of duty.  Aptly named, indeed, is Loial.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 48 [#111]

Leader Development: Nynaeve al'Meara

    Despite spending the ship ride from Jurene seasick, the three women arrive in Tear.  The odd fued between Nynaeve and Egwene is ongoing, mostly out of pride and ego at this point.  As they begin their search for Liandrin and the rest in earnest, Nynaeve recognizes the danger of being predictable and staying at an inn.

    "'Not an inn," Nynaeve said as firmly as she guided the stallion; she never seemed to let the animal get out of her control.  After a moment, she moderated her tone a little.  "Liandrin, at least, knows us, and we have to assume the others do, too.  They will surely be watching the inns for whoever followed the trail they sprinkled behind them.  I mean to spring their trap in their faces, but not with us inside.  We'll not stay at an inn."

Nynaeve, The Dragon Reborn, p. 472

    Nynaeve decides to play to her own strengths in finding a place for them to stay.  Crisscrossing the poorer sections of Tear, she finally finds the house of a local Wise Woman, Ailhuin; equivalent to Nynaeve's Wisdom status back in the Two Rivers.  Using her own seasickness as an icebreaker, she starts immediately to find common ground with Ailhuin.

    They settled down as if testing each other, tossing questions and answeres back and forth faster and faster.  Sometimes the questioning lagged a moment when one spoke of a plant the other knew only by another name, but they picked up speed again, arguing the merits of tinctures against teas, salves against poultices, and when one was better than another.  Slowly, all the quick questions begain shifting toward the herbs and roots one knew that the other did not, digging for knowledge.  Egwene began to grow irritable listening.

Nynaeve and Ailhuin, The Dragon Reborn, p. 476

    Nynaeve's effort in building a common foundation with Ailhuin pays off as the Wise Woman is content to share her home with the three women.  Taking the additional hour or two to connect with Ailhuin earns a big payoff.  By comparison, Egwene's impatience no doubt would have led to a much more direct confrontation without the same level of success.  It's difficult to dial back that drive to make substantial progress and make an honest effort to connect with the team, but it's critical to actually building and creating a team.  It was probably one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn.  I'm not particularly outgoing, so that was the biggest part - becoming more sociable, walking around asking questions, talking to folks about stuff other than work - all of it is still leadership.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 47 [#110]

Leader Development: Thom Merrilin

    Thom's maintained a somewhat unobtrusive presence in the background since the leaving Mat and Rand in The Eye of the World.  He made an appearance in The Great Hunt, but went off on his own.  Now he's roped back in with Mat and starts to showcase his expertise when Mat explains to Thom and Basel that Lord Gaebril intends to have Elayne killed.

    "Rumor."  Thom rubbed the side of his nose; he seemed to be studying the stones board and talking to himself.  "No one can keep rumors from reaching Morgase's ears, and if she hears it strongly enough, she will start to wonder.  Rumor is the voice of the people, and the voice of the people often speaks truth.  Morgase knows that.  There is not a man alive I would back against her in the Game.  Love or no love, once Morgase starts examining Gaebril closely, he'll not be able to hide as much as his childhood scars from her.  And if she learns he means harm to Elayne" - he placed a stone on the board; it seemed an odd placement at first glance, but Mat saw that in three more moves, a third of Gill's stones would be trapped - "Lord Gaebril will have a most elaborate funeral."
Thom, The Dragon Reborn, p. 464 - 465

    Thom has a keen sense for the inner workings of organizations; with a strategic guile to match.  Rumor and perception are a fact of life in leading organizations.  Understanding how it works can shift the advantage to the leader who can see three or more moves ahead.  More importantly, however, is a leader's duty to counter the rumor mill with fact.  Depending on the organization and it's culture, this may mean lots of repetition; answering the same question, revisiting the same change proposal, again and again.  It can be exhausting; but it can't be ignored, else the issues will fester and magnify, damaging the overall effort.  


The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 46 [#109]

The Bloody Garden Wall Again

    Following his failure at the main entrance, Mat changes his attack and climbs the cliff-facade that Rand climbed during their first visit to Caemlyn in The Eye of the World.  As before, it yields a successful entry to the palace garden (without the embarassment of Rand's fall).  As he makes his way towards the palace, Mat overhears two men plotting to have Elayne killed on her way to Tear.  Mat encounters Tallanvor, who escorts him directly to Queen Morgase.  

    This whole chapter is an allegory against attacking entrenched positions.  Be it an actual, physical fortification, or merely a metaphorical one based on a particularly contentious topic, finding a way to 'yes' means finding a way around the main gate to the garden wall.  Part of it is meeting somewhere in the middle, showing Elayne's letter in hand so to speak.  Part of it is remaining humble, recalling that you may not necessarily know everything about the issue.  Generally, it's not productive to point out where the other position is wrong, that gets people to dig in deeper.  After all, it's worked this way for years, how can it be wrong?  As mentioned yesterday, asking questions can be disarming, getting people to talk and pull out details that hadn't been considered or get to the true heartache of the situation.  Above all, just keep attacking from every angle; find the route to the top of the garden wall.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 45 [#108]

What's In A Question?

    Arriving in Caemlyn, Mat splits from Thom in his haste to rid himself of Elayne's letter.  This attempt fails spectacularly as Mat is forced away from the main gate to the palace at a gallop.

    Fool, he thought, meaning the fat officer, then added another for himself.  All I had to do was say her bloody name in the beginning.  "Elayne, the Daughter-Heir of Andor, sends this letter to her mother, Queen Morgase."  Light, who could have thought they'd think that way about Tar Valon.  From what he remembered of his last visit, Aes Sedai and the White Tower had been close behind Queen Morgase in the Guards' affections.  Burn her, Elayne could have told me.  Reluctantly, he added, I could have asked questions, too.

Mat, The Dragon Reborn, p. 444

    Mat's doing an excellent job of analyzing his failures; but it doesn't appear that he's learning anything from them.  He's always been the leap first, look later type of character, and it lands him in a disaster here again.  Had he made the association that innkeepers tend to hear the news and rumors of the city, Mat may have reconsidered Thom's offer to head to the inn first.  Mat finds out all sorts of useful information during his talk with Thom and Basel Gill, the innkeeper of the Queen's Blessing. 

    Asking questions is the best way to uncover more information about a problem.  Most people tend to have difficulty admitting they're having trouble with a situation; they'll often clam up and put on the "everything's fine, here, now" facade.  Fear of failure, loss of the boss's confidence, demotions, etc are all running through their heads; so instead of asking for help, they'll keep slugging it out in the trenches hoping for success.  As leaders, it's our job to know the warning signs for these situations and begin to step in.  Asking questions provides a way to guide the individual or team through a problem without taking the control out of their hands.  They're still empowered to develop their own solutions; some of the burden of failure is removed allowing them to start visualizing success once more.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapters 43 & 44 [#107]


    At the end of Chapter 42, Moiraine leaves Lan (and the rest) very explicit instructions to stay behind while she scouts ahead.  Lan, Perrin, Faile, and Loial take time to scout out the immediate surroundings of their inn.  Discovering paw prints from a Darkhound etched clearly in the cobblestone streets, Lan elects to disobey Moiraine.

    The Warder was silent for a time.  "The answer to that, blacksmith," he said grimly at last, "may be more than you or I, either one, want to know.  I hope the answer does not kill us all.  You three get what sleep you can.  I doubt we will stay the night in Illian, and I fear we have hard riding ahead."

    "What are you going to do?"  Perrin asked.

    "I am going after Moiraine.  To tell her about the Darkhound.  She can't be angry with me for following for that, not when she would not know it was thereuntil it took her throat."

Lan and Perrin, The Dragon Reborn, p. 424

    Actively disobeying a direct order is a bold choice.  For Lan, it's a matter between his original oath to protect Moiraine and her more recent demand that he stay behind to protect Perrin, Faile and Loial in the event of her death.  Lan's decision rests entirely on his interpretation of Moiraine's intent.  The Darkhound is a new variable to the equation, one that Moiraine did not foresee or plan for.  This new information demands immediate action.  With no other means of communicating the hazards to Moiraine, Lan follows her; leaving the other three behind.  No doubt he feels that Perrin's ability to smell the evil of the Gray Men, and others, leaves them in as good a defensive position as any at the moment.  Lan's success is in acting on his oath to defend Moiraine.  She might be angry, but at least she'll be alive to be angry. 

    In the end, it comes down to trusting folks to make decisions and act quickly and advantageously in the leader's absence.  Leaders facilitate this by communicating intent, continually driving decisions down to the lowest effective level and keeping an open mind when taking the reports upon returning to the team. 

The Dragon Reborn - Chapters 41 & 42 [#106]

Emotional Intelligence VIII: Perrin Aybara

    Perrin, Moiraine, Lan, Loial and Faile arrive in Illian.  Perrin welcomes the din of the city to drown out his connection to the wolves.  As the small group drives further into the city, there is a palpable sense of wrongness permeating the Illian and its denizens.  Settling in to the inn, Easing the Badger, Moiraine grills the innkeeper for news - what she finds out clearly terrifies her.

    If Moiraine had sounded afraid before, it had been nothing to when she said that something must be done tonight.  For an instant then, fear scent had steamed from her as from a woman announcing that she was going to stick her hand in a hornet's nest and crush them with her bare fingers.  What in the light is she up to?  If Moiraine is frightened, I should be terrified.

    He was not, he realized.  Not terrified, or even frightened.  He felt ... excited.  Ready for something to happen, almost eager.  Determined.  He recognized the feelings.  They were what wolves felt just before they fought.  Burn me, I'd rather be afraid!

Perrin, The Dragon Reborn, p. 415

    As Perrin's connection to the wolves deepens, his self analysis does as well.  In that small passage, he executes a considerable amount of emotional intelligence, following the emotions through to their source.  Recognizing what he probably should be feeling, based on a logical examination of what he senses from Moiraine, and then further recognizing that his actual feelings are completely different.  Driving deeper to examine them completely, instead of just glancing at the surface.   All in the space of a few seconds.  Part of his aptitude at dismantling his emotions on the fly is no doubt linked to his normal, pensive and analytical mindset.  For example, earlier as they were traveling through Illian to the inn, Perrin questioned himself on what he wasn't seeing when Loial and Moiraine independently remarked about something being wrong in Illian.  At the moment, the only one to throw him off balance is Faile.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 40 [#105]

Character Development: Mat Cauthon

    Mat and Thom arrive in Aringill, where Cairhienin civil war is pushing refugees in searching for food and shelter just as it's driving prices for those same amenities skywards. 

    The two girls sobbed into their mother's skirts while the boy fought his tears.  The woman's deep-set eyes rested on Mat for a moment, studying his face, before drifting on; they looked as if she wished she could weep too.  On impulse he dug a fistful of loose coins out of his pocket without looking to see what they were and pressed them into her hand.  She gave a start of surprise, stared at the gold and silver in her hand with incomprehension that quickly turned to a smile, and opened her mouth, tears of gratitude filling her eyes.

    "Buy them something to eat," he said quickly, and hurried on before she could speak. 

Mat, The Dragon Reborn, p. 390 - 391

    It was even further to Lugard than to Caemlyn, and Mat suddenly remembered that hard end of bread.  And [Aludra] had said she had no money.  The fireworks would buy no meals until she found someone who could afford them.  She had never even looked at the gold and silver that had spilled from his pockets when he fell; it glittered and sparkled among the straw in the lantern light.  Ah, Light, I cannot let her go hungry, I suppose.  He scooped up as much as he could reach quickly.

    "Uh ... Aludra?  I have plenty, you can see.  I thought perhaps ... ?"  He held out the coins toward her.  "I can always win more."

Mat, The Dragon Reborn, p. 398 - 399

    Mat's inclination for his own self-interest is slowly receding.  It's not simply his generosity with his coin, but his trust in himself that he can do without it, can earn more if needed, or even survive and thrive if need be.  He puts up a hardened exterior to stave of Thom's questions and his own embarrassment at his brash actions, but it's also obvious that Thom respects the decisions Mat makes, and the man he's becoming.  As for Mat, well, change requires an adjustment period to appreciate the new normal.

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 39 [#104]

Violent Disagreement And Healthy Discourse

    Nynaeve and Egwene are still having their odd little argument, even amidst the Aiel.  Elayne's efforts at a heat sink are mostly ineffective.  Nynaeve attempts to hide her frustration in moving ahead towards Jurene after leaving the Aielwomen, but ends up just creating a war of silence between all three of the women.

    They caught up to Nynaeve, Egwene glowering as she thought, Nynaeve staring straight ahead toward Jurene and that ship, and Elayne frowning at the pair of them as if they were two children sulking over who should have the larger piece of cake.
Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene, The Dragon Reborn, p. 373

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with healthy disagreement amongst a team - behind closed doors.  That's how flaws in the plans get uncovered; how potentially crippling issues come to light - it's the open honesty that continues to build the foundation of trust among team members.  Once a plan is decided on, however, every team member needs to embrace it wholeheartedly, no matter what their view point.  This is where Egwene and Nynaeve are struggling.  Keeping that friction between them, erodes the overall team as others (Elayne) waste energy trying to unify the fracturing team.  

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 38 [#103]

Culture Shock

    Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve begin walking from the stuck river boat to Jurene.  They find themselves sidetracked by a group of Aiel, searching for someone to help heal one of their wounded comrades.  The exchange between the two groups of women reveals plenty of ignorance and misconception on both sides. 

    "I am Egwene al'Vere," she told them.  They seemed to expect more, so she added, "Daughter of Marin al'Vere, of Emond's Field, in the Two Rivers."  That seemed to satisfy them, in a way, but she would have bet they understood it no more than she did all these septs and clans.  It must mean families, in some way.
    "You are first-sisters?"  Bain seemed to be taking in all of three of them.
    Egwene thought they must mean sisters as it was used for Aes Sedai, and said "Yes," just as Elayne said "No."

Egwene, Elayne and Bain, The Dragon Reborn, p. 363
    Bain looked at her as if she had announced the sky was blue, or that rain fell from the clouds.  The glance she gave Egwene and Elayne said perhaps they did not know these things.
Bain, The Dragon Reborn, p. 364
    As you say, Aes Sedai.  But the old stories are all clear on one point.  We must never fight Aes Sedai.  If you bring your lightnings and your balefire against me, I will dance with them, but I will not harm you."
Aviendha, The Dragon Reborn, p. 365

    The groups of women start slowly working through their misconceptions; primarily through the use of patient questions and answers.  Both groups were completely respectful of the other (minus some angry words from Nynaeve as she prepared to heal the wounded Aielwoman), facilitating a healthy dialogue.  All organizations have their own culture, mannerisms, processes and nuances.  Stepping in new requires that same respectful, questioning attitude.  Starting a conversation with "Help me to understand why...." engages people more positively than "I think you should do things this way..." or (even worse) "You're doing this all wrong..."  There may be perfectly valid methods behind the madness, or it may simply be chaos that needs some order.  Asking questions, ever more questions, allows the new leader to gather that information and assess the overall culture of the organization.  One of my new supervisors is doing that right now - going to people, asking questions, spending time trying to understand.  Coming to me questions and trying to explain his viewpoints.  Asking for patience as he comes up to speed.  It's a welcome change from some other folks I've seen in the past where it's immediately "my way or the highway."

The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 37 [#102]

Acting The Part

    Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve head towards Tear aboard the Blue Crane.  Whatever unity they had prior to their trip seems to be unraveling rapidly.  Egwene and Nynaeve are at each other's throats; in violent disagreement about each step of the way, with Elayne caught in the middle.  Nynaeve seems to be 'winning' the arguments more often than not; reverting back to her days as Wisdom.  She's not yet learned to match the title of Aes Sedai with the intrinsic capabilities she holds being able to wield the Power.

    His eyebrows had shot up again when they asked for just one cabin among them - not even Nynaeve wanted to be alone at night if she did not have to be.  Each could have a cabin to herself at no extra charge, he told them; he had no other passengers, his cargo was aboard, and if Aes Sedai had urgent business downriver, he would not wait even an hour for anyone else who might want passage.  They said again that one cabin would be sufficient.

Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egwene, The Dragon Reborn p. 351

    There are some expectations and unspoken rules and privileges afforded to Aes Sedai that the three women are breaking.  Too eager in their pursuit, they're also leaving a very clear trail behind them.  Captain Ellisor will no doubt quickly spread the word about (gasp!) "three Aes Sedai sharing a cabin".  In this instance, blending in would be to accept the offer and not raise any eyebrows at all.  They could still share a room afterwards if they still wished.  Acting the part, particularly in prominent leadership positions like the Aes Sedai hold, is part and parcel of leadership.  Such privileges are provided out of respect, and it's somewhat disrespectful to the office to refuse them without a valid reason.  At the same time, it's a balancing act to not go completely overboard and either become  disingenuous or start abusing the office for personal gain. 

Interlude III [#101]

100 Days Challenge Complete

    This is by no means the end; merely a quick reflection on what the past 100 days have been.  This was a great challenge: 42,528 words written from 13 May to 20 August.  That's a small novel (or large novella).  Were there days when I absolutely did not want to write anything? Most definitely (weekends were usually the hardest).  Just as there were days where it was tremendously hard to find a link in the text to leadership.  And there were a couple days of pure phoning it in to meet the requirement (not every workout is a perfect ten either; some days are just logging the mileage or reps to keep the habit ingrained, sacrificing a bit of progress for a lot of continuity).  But it wasn't an agonizing struggle; just the normal struggle of a challenge set and the desire not to fail in the achievement. 

    There were also many days of pieces I was incredibly proud of at the end of the session; pieces that I found incredibly interesting at the links my own mind made.  I stated at the beginning, this is an exercise in very free-form, stream-of-consciousness writing with minimal editing.  This took some of the burden of creating "term paper" perfect writing; allowing me to instead simply see what weird and wacky connections my mind makes.  All entries written and posted the same day, usually within the same hour.  And some of the themes repeat; but that's to be expected.  Leadership is iterative.

    Moving forward, I plan to continue this effort.  For the moment, the challenge remains the same: write every day.  Part of it, a large part of it, is a fear that once the habit stops, it stops for a lot longer than intended until it finally disappears.  I'll likely drop the #100Days tag, but continue to count the entries.  Next stop: 200 and beyond!


The Dragon Reborn - Chapters 35 & 36 [#100Days, Day 100]

Judging Books

    As quickly as they arrive in Remen, Perrin's fight with the Whitecloaks causes them to leave.  Perrin, Lan, Moiraine and Loial board a ship bound for Illian; along with a new passenger, a dark haired Saldaean woman.

    He blinked; there was no mistaking that emphasis.  "A Hunter?  You?  You cannot be a Hunter.  You're a girl."

Perrin, The Dragon Reborn, p. 335

    Perrin makes his own misstep here, discounting Zarine's abilities simply because of her gender.  This one puzzles me as it's well out of character for Perrin.  This is the sort of comment I'd expect Mat to make.  Regardless, Perrin's mistake is making a snap judgement on ability with no basis; immediately shrugging off any value Zarine brings to the team.  Perrin's behavior is odd, considering his
traveling companion is an Aes Sedai; and probably one of the more deadly
people he knows.  Of all people, he should know to maintain an open mind about new talents and skills a new team member brings.  Zarine's
response is well crafted and recalibrates Perrin; answernig the question he should have asked ("What qualifies you to be a Hunter?") and shifts the tone of the conversation towards a respectful exchange between professionals.

    "Nimble fingers and nimble wits will take you a good deal further than a sword and muscles.  Sharp eyes help, as well, but fortunately, I have these things."

Zarine, The Dragon Reborn, p. 335