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New Member
Ina watches the other elf curiously; she's heard of druids but never had the opportunity to meet one, much less see them actually converse with animals. She'd seen the odd amulet that let the wearer mimic it, but the fluidity of it as a natural ability was refreshing. When seeing demonstrations of the auctioned pieces the wearer had spoken in stilted common, but this...it was almost ethereal. Ina doesn't understand the words but Syvis' expressions and body language speak volumes.

Ina leans in to look the birds, glancing at the man and waiting to see how he answers the other woman and taking a stance that allows her to keep an eye on where Hircus and Moire are conversing with the pair who called out to them.


Hircus Hornbrow
"Drunk!" Hircus releases a single chuckle, "Why would they think me drunk? I was merely taking a direct approach to acclimating myself to this strange town and it's festivals." Hircus allows Moire to guide him back to the path they were following. Once again, as he begins to move, Hircus is reminded of his stomach discomfort. "I think I might have a bit of fish. Maybe it will help settle my stomach." The cleric moves toward the fish stall and grabs two salted fish tossing one to Moire.

Once they are out of earshot of the guard, "Thanks for intervening back there. I did not intend to provoke the guard. I just wanted to get a closer look at the ball. Turns out that it is just a big wooden ball." Hircus pockets the fish and heads toward Ina and the newcomer, Syvis. His eyebrow cocks when he sees the elf leaning in and apparently talking to some birds in a cage. "Are you negotiating with these birds over the price of the man? I think you have it backward my dear. How long were you lost in the woods?"
dryfish.jpg "Eternal day follows eternal night," proclaims the fishmonger with a heavy sigh when Hircus takes the two fish from her stall. As he walks away, she uses a nub of charcoal to jot something on a scrap of paper from her pocket.

The birdkeeper, addressing Syvis' avian questions, says, "But these are Birds of Berez, rare and fit as can be. Floodwaters took their kind's voices nigh three generations ago." The birds around him continue their acrobatic chitchat, repeating already-familiar themes.

"However," the man continues, "I shouldn't want to have more than one. They really don't get along with each other." He leans close to scrutinize one of the birds. "Come to look at it, this fellow does seem a bit pale; this whole lot really. Maybe they have caught something. No, I shouldn't like to have most of these at home. That one's alright I suppose. Why don't you rescue him before he catches whatever the others have?" He points a stubby finger at one bird, who flips over and kicks its feet about, saying, "Look out! Look out! Something's coming for me!"

The young woman, who has been standing by unacknowledged since addressing Hircus, chimes in, "Most people just call these daybats, not Birds of Berez. And he has to give you all of them if you ask."

"These are the Birds of Berez," says their keeper unhappily.

"Daybats," the young woman repeats.


Elder Member
Looking over her shoulder, Syvis frowned at Hircus, "I was not ... lost. The birds have other concerns than their keeper." She nodded to a few, "This one wishes to be free, this one desires attention, this one prefers their caged territory, and this one is guided by its hunger." She tried to focus on what the man was saying over the distraction of the birds, "I've ... never heard of such creatures, nor such a tale." Studying the birds none of them truly looked sickly, she bit her lip as she thought, listening to the weary sounding man deal with the woman who'd followed them.

Standing upright she focused on the bird he'd pointed at, speaking in Sylvan, "Would you like to be out of this cage? Or do you prefer your keeper? Are there any of you that wish to be elsewhere? If some of you prefer this home, I would not deny it to you." Pausing she looked at the rest of the group, bringing a hand back over her mouth, "... have I been doing too much?" Amber eyes focused on the woman who kept replying to the merchant, "... and who are you? Are you of this pa-- group?"


Behind Your Chair
Moire catches the fish HIrcus tossed her way and smiles gratefully. "Think nothing of the intervention, my friend. This place is odd and growing odder. I saw that wooden ball with my own eyes and I still have a hard time imagining it's merely what it seems."

As Syvis negotiates for the birds, the Paladin naturally pivots to the woman who'd come to their unexpected aid. Moire's searching glance takes in this bright-eyed girl's manner, her spirit and her comeliness before responding to it with a welcoming smile, a step forward and a hand offered to shake. "If you don't know what's going on here, surely we don't either. But then, it's hard to know anything if no one volunteers information or asks a question. Let me start. I'm Moire Cassiel. These are my friends, Hircus, Ina and Syvis. For the moment, we're taking in the festival...and looking for whoever might own this." Moire produces the fishing fly, holding it aloft in her other unoccupied hand. "Now, who do we have the pleasure of meeting?" The Paladin's smile turns to a grin as she adds, "Surely you're one of Lathander's faithful yourself. You certainly brighten up the morning the way He does."
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The caged birds answer Syvis with a series of movements and wing beats that say, "Out! Out! This is boring. The world is full of food." Only one holdout struts back and forth in its tiny space. "Nice try," it gestures. "You won't get my cage!"

n.jpg The young woman who caught up with you seems confused by the Syvis' question. "Oh, wow, I just assumed you were all together. So you just came along here at the same time? That's weird, like an omen or something."

When Moire steps in, the woman takes her hand, and introduces herself as Nina, and the nearly-bald man with her as Mykola ("Hello," he says flatly). She blushes at Moire's complement and looks off to one side. Bells from the church a few blocks away, followed by a cheer from the distant crowd, break the awkward moment.

Nina takes the fishing fly and looks it over. "Is that one of Blinsky's things?" she asks. "What does it do? Sing a song, or come back when you throw it?" She touches the sharp barb and frowns. "No, it's just regular. I don't know any of the fishing people. They get up too early, throw things in the well for good luck and start drinking when it's still light out."

"The fishers are fools," Mykola comments. "They should fall in and drown."

Nina rolls her eyes and grins. "Have I mentioned Mykola has some opinions? Anyway, if you're looking for someone to make you more of those hooks, people fish off the bridge over the Luna River, or out on Lake Zarovich if they drink enough to not be afraid of the wolves. And sometimes they nose around the woods for good fishing rod branches. Father Petrovich at the church might know them, because they go there to pray for bigger fish, but he'll be busy today with the festival. Hey, we could ask some of our friends if they know anything. Just say where and Mykola and me can show you the way."

Nina looks at Syvis again. "You should come with us too. You'll just be a sitting duck walking around alone with a bunch of daybats."


Hircus Hornbrow
"Ah, my dear. If you were not lost how did you end up here?"Hircus says to Syvis as he gestures around him.

Hircus finally notices the woman and the balding man. "Hello! Yes, quite shabby treatment, but that can be said for just about every moment we've spent in this place right up until this present moment. Shabby, each minute." Hircus keeps one eye on the newcomer but is very clearly unimpressed with her desire to be helpful as he continues to glance back toward Syvis and the bird seller. That is when inspiration strikes.

Moving in closer to the bird seller he asks, "If I were to show you some colorful feathers, do you think you might be able to identify them?"

Hircus keeps half an ear on the conversation behind him. I do not get a good feeling from that woman. She seems to be too interested in our situation.
"I know all the birds of the valley," avers the man with the dancing birds. "If the color is natural and not an imposture of vegetable dye, I can likely give you the bird's proper name."


New Member
Fascinating, Ina thinks, turning when the others approach. She nods to both Nina and Mykola in turn as they're introduced, smiling at the pair. She also note's Moire's lingering look at the woman and hides a smile.

"I was never one for fishing, either," she laughs, "Always seemed a lot of work for little return..." She fidgets with her leathers, unhappy with the fit and wondering how long before they'd all have something better suited for whatever trails were inevitably going to happen. "You seem to know a lot about people, Nina, I'm impressed."
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Elder Member
Following Hircus' movement, Syvis took in the village again, shaking her head slightly as she murmurs, "I was searching..."

Turning back to the caged birds she pointed towards the one that seemed so stubborn about its cage. "If I may, I'd like that little one," she switched to Sylvan, "It's time you braved the world."

Standing straighter she frowned towards Nina, "I saw the ... display of wolves at the gates. Are they truly such a danger here?" She glanced at the rest of the party, "... where I came from, they respect territory if they're not aggravated." Looking over her shoulder at the cages she continued, "Would I truly be alone with these little ones? They have much to say ..."


Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus motions toward Nina who is holding the fishing lure. "These feathers, can you tell me anything about this fishing lure? Do you know the bird's species or maybe you might know a local who could produce such a fine piece of craftsmanship?" Hircus gestures to the girl to have her hand the fishing fly over to the bird seller. "I mean, there can't be too many people who use such a lure, and in a small town such as Vallaki I would imagine you might have met such an individual." Hircus is very pleased with himself and stands up straight with a broad smile that is only briefly interrupted when his stomach rolls left to right with the weight of all of that water.
Nina tilts her head to one side at Ina's complement. "Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that. I just know the people worth knowing, and that's not too many. Most of the people here are just kind of empty behind the eyes. I'm sure you've noticed." She leans a little closer to Ina and rolls her eyes back at Mykola.

The birdkeeper is visibly relieved when Syvis selects just one cage. "Excellent choice," he says, picking it up and handing it to her. The bird inside hops around and beats its wings at its companions. "Hey, where are we going? Oh well, at least my place is going with me. So long you all! More space for me over here." The other birds gesture back, "Good riddance," and other, like sentiments.

Nina shakes her head in wonder at Syvis' natural historical musings. "If you like talking to daybats, well good for you. Seem kind of boring to me. If I were talking to birds, I'd go with ravens. At least you can teach them to answer back."

"And wolves, well, I think there are probably good ones and bad ones, just like people. And then there are the ones who actually are people. I hear those are mostly bad, and a bad influence on the regular wolves. But, yeah, that Wolf Head Jamboree was pretty extreme, even more than the usual festival stupidity. What a waste. Nobody can eat all that meat at once. If anything, it's just gonna make you-know-who madder, wasting all those wolves."

"Down with festivals," says Mykola emphatically. Some nearby villagers register surprise at this and distance themselves from your group.

"Well, yeah," says Nina in a more subdued tone. "Not everyone here is a sheep. Some of those people worth knowing I was talking about are definitely getting fed up with all of these fake holidays."

"Praise the Morninglord and praise Baron Vallakovich," the birdkeeper says with conviction, before the yellow fly distracts him from his reactionary fervor. He rubs the feathers between his fingers and examines the lure with the hook dangerously close to his eyeball. "These are from a yellow-crested moorlark," he declares, and then provides some commentary on that creature's habitat and behaviors. "I catch them sometimes, but today I offer only the Birds of Berez. There are people who I trade bundles of pretty feathers with, so they can make things, but these are private people. They want to be left alone, I think."

Hearing the keeper's disquisition, Nina elbows Ina in the ribs and pokes Moire's shoulder. "So is this what you do, tracking stuff down, returning lost objects? It's pretty much exactly what I heard about visitors like you, but you're the first I've met, so I didn't really believe it."
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Behind Your Chair
Moire lets the two elves haggle out the purchase of a bird (a bird, really?). Instead, she concentrates on the drip of information Nina provides, nodding along at the conversation and periodically looking very interested...which isn't hard, given she is interested. "I think we might pay a visit to this Blinksy at some point," she observes to Hircus, and to Ina and Syvis if they're attentive enough for it. "But at the moment, perhaps we should try this Luna River bridge. If we see any of your friends along the way, Nina, I would be glad to know if they've seen a man of a certain description who this might belong to."

The Paladin then provides what details the group knows about the man they've been asked to search for. Though at this point, the chain of events is stretching past the point of remembrance. An elf suggested helping a Vistani who presented an opportunity to help find a girl except they'd then been asked to find a man who might be among the fishers now? Too many tenuously connected threads. She's a Paladin of Ilmater, not an investigator. But there was nothing to smite (yet) so she might as well follow this to the end.

Then Moire smiles at Nina's poke. "Let's say it's one of the things visitors like us do. And if we're the first visitors you've met, clearly you should come with us and see for yourself what we get up to." Beyond the young woman's becoming features, there was a real advantage to having a local (and friendly) guide, after all.
Hashing out the directions to the Luna River bridge, it soon becomes clear that Nina is talking about the very stone bridge where Moire, Ina, Hircus and Tegan made their desperate stand against the vicious wolves yesterday. Getting back there would just be a fifteen or twenty minute walk west of Vallaki. With that clarified, it's evident that you're unlikely to run into Nina's friends outside the town walls. However, with the physical description of the fisherman, Nina does think she's seen him before with other people who fish. "Someone has to know more about him. Come on," she says, tugging at Moire's elbow. "Mykola and me were going to meet some of our friends anyway. Let's all go and ask them. It's just over here." She indicates a smaller street that leads to the southern part of town.


Hircus Hornbrow
Hircus watches the man examine the lure and can't help but lean in a bit himself. As the main prattles about the birds and their nesting habits Hircus nods and smiles along trying to appear interested in all of the details the man is willing to share. Once he finishes, Hircus stands up straight and nods appreciatively. "You seem to know much about the origins of this interesting bird and I am astonished that you are able to determine the species of bird from just this tiny feather. I am interested in meeting anyone who might be able to craft such a lure for fishing, but I do respect the discretion taken to maintain your client's privacy." Hircus holds up one finger and winks, "You may hang onto that lure for just a moment more. I want to get the attention of my friend. She knows much more about lures and fishing and such."

Hircus turns from the bird vender and grasps his amulet with his left hand while reaching a flat right palm toward Moire. The cleric slowly moves her way. With each step, taken he quietly speaks a prayer to petition Torm's help on Moire's behalf.

Torm, you know our path is true, though your road has turns.
Will you guide her words, so that we may learn.

Upon reaching Moire, Hircus makes a quick gesture and presses his flattened palm against her back just as he senses a warmth spread down his arm and into the palm of his right hand.

A moment later Hircus scoops an arm around Moire and smiles at her partner in conversation, "Might I steal her for a moment? I want her to give this gentleman a bit more info about the fishing lure so that we might learn something about it's creator. Pardon us." Hircus gives Moire a wink and gestures got her to join him at the bird seller's booth.


Behind Your Chair
Moire shivers slightly at the memory of their near-death experience on that bridge. At least it's not a far walk, and perhaps somewhat safer on a festival day. Possibly. Her musing is interrupted by Nina's excited tugging and the Paladin can't help but smile a little in response. "I suppose it can't hurt to meet your friends, let's-"

The touch of Hircus' palm on her back prompts Moire to pay attention once more to her surroundings. In that moment, the Paladin peers at the bird seller and his nervous reserve. Then she glances back at the friendly Nina and the decidedly unfriendly Mykola. And with a single thought, she reaches out through her connection to Ilmater and parts the veil of the world, looking to see if the hand of the supernatural rests on this village or its people.

A second later, she smiles again, relieved to find no concerning presences. "A moment, Nina. Mykola," she adds to the girl's unsmiling companion. "My friends and I have a little business to conclude here first. Now..."

"My friends and I can respect the privacy of your customers. Who wants to be bothered by strangers?" Moire shrugs and adopts an understanding expression to the bird seller. "Yet today is festival, isn't it? Perhaps one of many, perhaps one of a great many but it's still a day for conversation, for meeting people, even strangers! Strangers who might appreciate a new customer. And a little business from us means they're in a better position to be good business for you. So, why not help us help you?"
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The bird man mulls over Moire's words and nods in agreement. "Very well. This is most likely the work of a man named Pullo." He puts the yellow lure on the table in front of him. "He lives over at Bow Lane, north of the Old Svalich Road. It's a small house with green and yellow flowers painted on the shutters. People who fish keep strange hours. I don't know if you'll find him in now."

"Bow Lane," says Nina. "I can show you where that is. It'll be faster if we get off this crowded road. Those bells were the church letting out. Any minute now, it'll get even tighter here. Come on, Mykola."
The elbow takes her slightly by surprise, and instinctually she glances down to see if she's just been robbed; some may call it paranoia, but that's only because they've never had to chase a cutpurse down 3 streets and through an abattoir before. Her shoes had reeked of pigs' blood for weeks.

Ina clasps the other woman's shoulder with equal fervor; playing friends for now wouldn't be too hard, though she didn't relish the idea of blindly following yet another stranger. Mind you, she mused, we're actually the strangers here. She then glances at Moire and Hircus, a sad pang in her throat. Her finger absently taps against her set of picks.

"Well it certainly seems like bumping into you two was a stroke of luck!" She beams at Nina and Mykola, "I do, however, have some business at the Inn. I could meet you there after if you'd prefer to get going? I shan't be too long." She gestures towards the inn, quite redundantly, and gives a questioning look to the group.


Behind Your Chair
Seeing the girl and her friend departing, Moire steps as if to follow them. But seeing Ina lag, the Paladin turns back to her elven friend and smiles. "You know where we're headed, Ina. If we're not there by the time you get there, meet us at the Luna River bridge. Hopefully this time we'll only have the one wolf." And Moire pats Syvis on the shoulder before heading after Nina.


Hircus Hornbrow
Satisfied with himself and the part he played in finding a possible name for the owner of the fly, Hircus catches himself smiling a self-satisfied smile which he quickly forces into a frown. Looking around to see if his subtle impropriety was noticed his frown deepens when he sees Ina and Syvis walking away and dips even more when he notices Nina impatiently beckoning Moire to follow. Hircus sighs and gives a little wince at the persistent stomach ache which, having receded in his thoughts comes rushing back to the forefront.

"It seems we are splitting in two again!" Hircus moves toward Moire and puts a hand on her shoulder, "I wonder. Do you think we'll ever be the two that get to go to the tavern?" He gives a little chuckle and another wince, "Ah, I guess it's our duty."

"So, Nina, Mykola, What kind of work do you do here in Vallaki? Do you have a trade? There can't be much work as a guide in a village of this size." Hircus smiles broadly as he follows the two down the road.

Moire & Hircus
North of the Old Svalich Road
Nina and Mykola lead Moire and Hircus behind some houses along the Old Svalich Road, then around them to end up on a narrow, curving street heading northeast. It's much less crowded here, with only the old and infirm lingering near their homes.

Mykola taps his chest with a closed fist and says, "I am a teacher," when Hircus asks about the pair's professions. Nina sputters and says, "You haven't had any students in years!" The balding man pouts angrily until she stops and apologizes. "I'm sorry. That was mean. Please don't be mad!" Once everyone has started moving forward again, Nina turns to Hircus and silently mouths the words, "No students."

"Anyway," she says out loud, "I do some work for Lady Fiona Wachter, maybe you've heard of her already? It's mainly running errands, shopping, delivering messages. She might be Burgomaster some day, and if she takes me with her, well that'll be alright."

"And how about you two?" she asks Hircus and Moire. "What do you do when you're not vagabonding in mist-locked, sunless valleys? I think I spied you working some kind of little magic spell back there, didn't I?"

hex.png You leave the bending road for another one, with a slightly sharped curve to it, and before long, Nina stops and announces, "Here it is. I know this place! Didn't know that fisherman lived here."

The flowers on the house's closed shutters are moire geometrical patterns than literal representations. There's no sign that anyone is home. Nina quickly raps on the front door, getting no answer. "Out fishing," says Mykola.

Syvis & Inawenys
Among the Revelers

As Syvis and Ina leave the roadside and jump back into the river of taciturn Vallakian festival goers, the songbird, who Syvis has named Otrev, advises caution. "Fly up and over these big creatures! It's too dangerous down here! Why leave my castle for this? It might be interesting out there, but then I'll come home and someone else will be sitting in my nest!" Syvis sees that there are a smattering of more alert and interested people along the way to the inn. Some also look down from second-story windows on either side of the street. Otrev flaps his wings and kicks his feet at those who wander too close, telling them to keep their distance.

As Nina promised, about halfway to the inn, the flow of traffic changes, so that about half the people are traveling east and the other half west, slowing progress even further. The two elves eventually make it through to the long two-story building with smoking chimneys and a painted waterfall sign hanging from its eaves. The porch that runs the length of the Blue Water Inn is packed with townsfolk who sip from mugs and watch the swirling human current in the road.

The banging of hammer blows sounds out over the murmur of voices and trudging of feet. Up on a second-floor balcony, a man Ina recognizes as Urwin Martikov, one of the Blue Water's owners, is fitting a window into its frame. The Martikovs' older son, Brom, who Ina saw at stockyard early this morning, is helping him.

danika.jpg VenVindersmall.jpg With Syvis and Ina stalled at the short flight of steps to the porch, Danika herself pushes through the open doors of the inn. She passes out fresh mugs to some of the people on the porch and collects the empty ones before she spots Ina and gives her a quick smile.

Otrev dances a warning as a man with a big beard and a floppy hat approaches from the crowded street and speaks archly near Syvis' ear. "Take my advice, it's not worth the trouble. Thanks to the Baron, all the wine in this town has run dry. They're serving nothing but warm water and milk up there." Ignoring his own advice, he pushes by and mounts the stairs to the porch. Dannika's expression darkens for a moment as she sees this new arrival, but then she's smiling again, talking to the other patrons on the porch.



Behind Your Chair
Moire enjoys the walk, the company and the fact that it isn't night. Even Mykola's sour mood does little to quell her spirits. Given the ambiguity of their lives, a little action or even just movement goes a long way to help settle her spirits. As does Nina's antics. The silent enunciation of 'No students' amuses her enough that she has to cover her mouth to avoid laughing out loud.

"I'm not sure we've had the pleasure of meeting your Lady," Moire says to Nina as they near the house. "Perhaps this festival we'll have a chance. And it's admirable to find a worthy leader to follow. You seem like a bright girl so be sure to ask for more responsibility or even training, as you prove yourself. With a good work ethic, you can go far whether you live in a city, a village or even in the country."

Moire smiles at Nina's last question and shrugs slightly. "We save the innocent by smiting the wicked, mostly. Though I've been known to enjoy an ale now and then. Or a nice trip on a boat."

Reaching the house, the Paladin peers at the structure, listens for any sound of movement in the house, then shrugs and pats Nina on the shoulder. "Then it seems we might as well make our way to the bridge to see if he's there." Turning towards their guide, Moire lets her pat linger in a friendly arm squeeze. "Thank you, for your kindness and hospitality. In his land, a little kindness goes a long way and you've been more than kind. You're a bright spark in this sunless land. If you'd like, you're welcome to come with us to the bridge. But if you have other business then..." Moire lifts one eyebrow and her smile widens a fraction. "Hopefully our paths will cross again soon. Possibly this evening."
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Moire & Hircus
Outside Pullo's House


"If you're all about smiting the wicked," says Nina, "I bet Lady Wachter will have some work for you. With her on your side, your chances here can only improve. I'll tell you, I've never met visitors from beyond the mists, but from what I've heard, most of you don't last long in Barovia."

The young woman seems dumbfounded by Moire's proposed trip to the Luna River Bridge when no one answers the knock on Pullo's door. "Really? But we're here now. I thought you wanted to return that fishhook. Or, if that's not really why we're here, well, all the more reason." She nods her head at the closed door and winks. "Once you described the guy, I knew exactly who you were talking about. I've seen him around. You want to talk about people here who aren't quite there? He's the most not there. You think that door's locked?"

Nina takes the hand Moire used to squeeze her arm and tugs gently towards the doorknob. "Come on, try it."

Three weary-looking people emerge from a house across the narrow lane, but they pay no mind to the scene in front of Pullo's house. Nina glances at them briefly, then looks back at Moire. She raises her brows, widens her eyes and points her head at the door insistantly.
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Syvis shook her head as she muttered to the small bird, "Sadly I cannot fly as you do ... maybe someday. Would you be willing to leave if I promised your 'castle' is yours? No one will claim your nest little Otrev." As they walked her eyes wandered over the sea of people, amber eyes occasionally locking with others before they seemed to glance away.

Seeing the painted sign made Syvis wish she was somewhere less cramped by civilization -- the idea of resting next to a waterfall or even a small creek seemed welcoming. Studying the building it was filled with so many people and the elf began to shrink in on herself again, concerned she might lose track of Ina within the herd. Hearing someone suddenly speak right in her ear made her jolt and prepare a snarl in reaction, though she managed to rein herself in at the last second. Adjusting her hold on the birdcage, Syvis leaned in towards Ina, speaking in what she assumed was a common tongue of Elvish, "Who or what do we seek here ...? So many watch the streets from the perch of this place ... makes me think of birds watching fish in the streams."
Hircus watches Nina tempt Moire by playfully nudging her hand toward the doorknob. Brow pinched and posture stiffened Hircus snaps, "Knock it off, Nina. We are not playing here. I am a Cleric of the Righteous Torm and Moire here is a holy paladin of Ilmater. We suspect the owner of this fishing lure has some hand in the disappearance of a small child." Hircus winces at the slosh of his stomach as well as the realization that he is speaking to a young girl and not a fresh recruit. He shakes it off before he digs too deeply into his memories and continues, "Let's see what is around the back of this place. I do not wish to trespass without more information to justify such a deed."

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